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Putting away Providence

ProvidenceFriars11.GIFTomorrow at 2pm Villanova will take on Providence College at the Wachovia Center. Providence is 12-12 overall and 4-8 in the Big East this season, and can be all-but-certain that they won't be dancing in March.

The Friars have lost their last four games, against Cincinnati, Syracuse, Marquette and Georgetown. Those are all talented teams this year, but the Friar's also have an overtime loss against South Florida and out-of-conference losses to Iona, Alabama, and against brothers-in-futility, Boston College.

Providence is ranked 86th by KenPom, but more-telling is their defensive efficiency ranking of 201st. Against a team with an offensive ranking of 3rd in the country, a poor defensive showing will not be enough to get a win tomorrow.

The Friar's are lead by forward Jamine Peterson, who is averaging a double-double, at 18.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. Peterson has averaged 24 points over the last six games, however. Two other players average double-digit points, point guard Sharaud Curry (15.4 ppg, 3.5 assists) and guard/forward Marshon Brooks (14.5ppg, 4.3 reb.). The second-leading rebounder is center Bilal Dixon, with 6.9 per game (8.5 ppg).

Seven Friars average double-digit minutes per game. Their usual starters are Peterson, Dixon, Curry, and guards Brian McKenzie and Vincent Council. Brooks is third on the team in minutes per game, however, and can probably be expected to start tomorrow.

Providence averages 13.1 turnovers per game in Big East play (1.4 fewer than Villanova), and they have averaged 41.6 rebounds (Villanova averages 42.5). They just-barely out-rebound their opponents (by 0.1 rebound per game), while the Wildcats have the best rebounding margin in the Big East.

Providence does score a lot of points, however (79.1 per game - 2nd in the Big East), and the Wildcats' defense will get a test tomorrow at the Wachovia Center. The Friars shoot around 32% from the arc, and their best shooters from that range are Brooks (36.8%) and McKenzie (35.4%), and most of the shooters who have registered a  3-point attempt have hit them at around one third of the time.

Limiting our turnovers and holding off the athletic Providence offense will be the keys to this game.