Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
How: Fox Sports 1 (Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery and Erin Andrews) /WEEI 103.7 FM (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)
- The Friars and the Pirates have met 7 times all time in the Big East Tournament. Seton Hall has the 5-2 edge in the series and have won the last 4 times with the last Friar victory coming March 6, 1985. The only other time they met in Big East Semifinals, SHU was the 1 seed and beat 5 seed PC 69-60 and then went on to blow Syracuse out of the gym to win the 1993 Big East Tournament Championship.
- Bryce Cotton only played 34 minutes in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal game against St. John’s which was the fewest minutes he has played since a 70-49 victory over Vermont on November 18, 2013.
- Providence’s 49 total rebounds in yesterday’s game against St. John’s is the most rebounds they’ve ever had in a Big East Tournament game.
- The Friars are 0-2 all time in the Big East Tournament against 8 seeds but both times they were playing the 8 seed as a 9 seed in the first round of the tournament (1992 vs. BC and 2005 vs. West Virginia).
- Bryce Cotton joins Friar great Ryan Gomes as the only two Friars to ever be named to the First Team All-Big East more than once.
- Providence will be looking for win number 22 tonight. They haven’t won 22 games since they went 24-12 in 1997.
- Josh Fortune’s 24 points in yesterday’s game marked a new career high for points scored in a game. In his last 7 games, Fortune is averaging 16.5 ppg, which is double his season average.
- Seton Hall’s 2 wins in the Big East Tournament have made them eligible for the NIT should they not go on to win the Big East Tournament and get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
- Line opened at PC -1.5
Note: Rankings reflect Conference Games Only
Heading into Wednesday’s first round of the Big East Tournament, the 3 most likely teams to win according to Vegas and Kenpom’s log5 analysis were: Villanova, Creighton and St. John’s. While Providence being in the semifinals wasn’t a total shock (35.3% chance according to Kenpom), Seton Hall’s chances of getting there by beating Butler and Villanova on Wednesday and Thursday were 7.4% according to Kenpom. Knocking off the 1 seed and 3rd ranked team nationally in Villanova was a huge upset, especially after playing a game 15 hours prior. The Pirates did it by shooting well in the first half while Villanova struggled (26.9% from the field and 12.5% from 3pt in the first half) and getting out to a lead. To their credit, they got back up off the mat after Nova went on a run to come all the way back and even take the lead with just over 8 minutes remaining. But the Pirates shot 4/7 (57%) from deep in the 2nd half and were able to answer when Nova scored late. In the end it was Sterling Gibbs hitting a step back jumper at the buzzer to win it.
The story was somewhat similar for the Friars yesterday. They managed to be up by 3 points at the half with Bryce Cotton having just 1 point but then in the 2nd half, Josh Fortune’s hot shooting and LaDontae Henton’s solid play got PC out to a 17 point cushion with 6:24 remaining in the game despite Cotton having to sit for 4 minutes after picking up his 4th foul with 12:17 to go. The Johnnies weren’t done quite yet though. They had a run in them and were able to hit some shots and force some turnovers to get the PC lead all the way down to 1 after 2 D’Angelo Harrison free throws at the 1:15 mark. In the end, PC was able to get the stops they needed and sink their free throws in the final minute to salt the game away.
Seton Hall having an RPI over 100 means absolutely nothing tonight. They split the season series with PC with each team winning on the other’s home court. Seton Hall is much more talented than their 17-16 record indicate. Fuquan Edwin is one of the best player’s in the league. He was named to the 2nd team All-Big East. Gene Teague is a load down low and has traditionally given the Friars fits. Sterling Gibbs can be a bit up and down as can Brian Oliver but both players can fill it up when they are on.
The keys to this game will be PC controlling the boards and Bryce Cotton being Bryce Cotton. The Friars chances of winning this game with Bryce Cotton having another 1/10 performance from the field are not good. In the 2 games against the Pirates in the regular season, Cotton scored 25 and 24 points respectively so he will need to be over 20 again for PC to reach the Big East Tournament Finals for the first time since 1994 which is the only time they have ever won the Big East Tournament. Kadeem Batts and Carson Desrosiers will have to keep Teague neutralized and keep themselves out of foul trouble in the process.
I have a feeling this game will be another rock fight and will probably finish with both team’s in the 60’s. I do think PC is on a mission and will take this one but get your blood pressure and heart medication out because it will not be a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Seton Hall 62 Providence 64