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 Blue Jays have obviously never met in the Big East Tournament since this is Creighton’s first year of Big East membership.
- LaDontae Henton picked a great time for a season high of 26 points yesterday in the semifinal win over Seton Hall. In 4 career Big East Tournament games, Henton has averaged 16 ppg and 10 rpg.
- Bryce Cotton’s 10 assists last night came up just 1 short of the PC record for assists in a Big East Tournament game.
- The Friars are 1-3 all time in the Big East Tournament against 2 seeds.
- 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 23 tonight. They haven’t won 23 games since they went 24-12 in 1997.
- Line opened at PC +7
Note: Rankings reflect Conference Games Only
Well, here we are Friar fans. In the Big East Championship game. Like we all expected. Except those dreams took a number of big hits over the last 4+ months. You know all the details. Ledo, Dunn, Austin, Bullock, no bench. But what this team does have: Heart & Soul. It was great to see LaDontae Henton have a big game yesterday because he may be the epitome of Heart & Soul for this Friar team. He is the junkyard dog and plays a gritty style and has really been locked in with his jump shot of late. This Big East Tournament, no matter what happens tonight, is a turning point for this program. How many of you were saying, “I just hope the Friars show up on Thursday and make it a game”? In prior years, the Big East Tournament has been a pretty negative week in early March for PC marked by slow offensive starts and large halftime deficits. These Friars have managed to come out and compete from the opening tip. Ed Cooley has his bunch playing hard and with a purpose.
I stuck around last night to watch the Creighton/Xavier game. Creighton obviously can shoot the ball which didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was how they looked much more active on defense. Xavier really was working hard to get contested shots which is obviously not a great recipe for success.
Now on to tonight.
I know everyone in the inaugural season of this connotation of the Big East is feeling warm and fuzzy about rooting for each other and trying to get as many teams to the NCAA Tournament as possible. People have been commenting all week about how nice all the Creighton fans are when they see them all over NYC. Well here is some news for all of you: Creighton fans aren’t all nice.
There was a woman sitting a few rows behind me last night that couldn’t have been more obnoxious if she tried (and she was trying pretty hard). There were a group of Blue Jay fans that would stand up after a random made 3 and really delay sitting back down for a possession or two. Don’t be fooled by all the Midwest charm. These people are annoying and obnoxious. And they are loud. PC fans better show up in force and be rowdy tonight because otherwise, this might be another Senior Night for Doug McDermott at CenturyLink East.
The game tonight will come down to PC’s ability to slow the tempo and guard the 3 point line. Creighton wants to run and run and run. They run on a missed shot, they run on a made shot. They run out of a timeout! So PC’s transition D will be tested. They also have to watch out for the trailer, usually McDermott, who spots up at the top of the key for a 3 pointer. One thing to watch for is the amount of illegal screens Ethan Wragge will set tonight. For those looking for a drinking game while watching this one tonight, take a shot every time Wragge mauls 2 guys to get McDermott open for a jumper.
I think there is still some magic left for these Friars are Bryce Cotton hasn’t had a Bryce Cotton game yet at the Garden. Friars tell Lunardi and all the other Bubble Watchers to shove it and take the Big East’s automatic bid tonight to get to the Blue Carpet for the first time in a decade.
Prediction: Providence 77 Creighton 75