Providence Big East Schedule Review: Part II

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series giving my impressions of Providence’s Big East schedule in 6 game blocks. This second block looks at games 7-12 from 1/22/15 through 2/11/15. My evaluation of each 6 game block will take into account a few factors: road trips/travel, potential fan attendance/games over school breaks, opponent’s schedule around time of PC game and other factors.

Game 7: vs. Xavier

  • Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
  • When: 1/22/15 7:00pm
  • How: Fox Sports 1/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 47
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 59

This will be the first home game for the Friars where the students are back from break. Hopefully that means the student section will be full and rocking. What else is there to do on a Thursday night in January? Xavier loses Semaj Christon to the NBA and Justin Martin to transfer but they have an impressive recruiting class coming in including incoming freshman Larry Austin who had Providence as one of his final schools before selecting the Musketeers the weekend he was scheduled to visit Friartown. For Xavier, this game comes in the middle of arguably the toughest stretch of their conference schedule as they will be coming off games at Butler and Villanova with Marquette at home between this game in Providence and that game in Philadelphia. Xavier struggled on the road in the inaugural season in the Big East with a 2-6 record. The Musketeers play on the road in 3 of the 6 games leading to their trip to Providence.

Xavier will likely be somewhere in the 3rd-6th range along with Providence in terms of conference standings by the time March 8th rolls around so this game could make a big difference to both teams in the final league standings. Providence is coming off a trip to Omaha and should be at least 4-2 in league play entering this matchup. Xavier may end up being 4-2 as well based on how their first 6 games look right now.  This game is the beginning of a pretty tough 6 game block which will include a trip to Cincinnati for the rematch on February 7th.

Game 8: vs. DePaul

  • Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
  • When: 1/27/15 9:00pm
  • How: Fox Sports 1/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 154
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 198

DePaul is looking to try to continue to develop their young talent and they have three very talented youngsters to try to build around in Billy Garrett, Jr., Tommy Hamilton IV, and R.J. Curington. Garrett, Jr. was the Big East Rookie of the Year a season ago, Hamilton IV showed a diverse offensive game and Curington showed flashes last year including setting a number of single game career highs – notably minutes played (30) and points scored (22) – during DePaul’s trip to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center last year. This will likely be Providence’s “easiest” game during this tough 6 game block so the Friars will be looking to take advantage despite being on the road.

Game 9: at St. John’s

  • Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
  • When: 1/31/15 12:00pm
  • How: Fox/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 67
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 61

Finally! This will be the first time Providence has played a regular season game against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden since February 29, 2004. On that day the top-25 ranked Friars rolled to a 103-78 victory in that contest with Ryan Gomes recording a double-double. Both schools are a long way from the 2003-04 versions of themselves and both have rosters replete with talent. Aside from this game being played at MSG there is another cool aspect of this contest against the Red Storm: the game will be on Fox. No not Fox Sports 1. Fox. This is one of the nine Big East games that will be broadcast on the Fox Network this season.

The key players that Providence will have to worry about for the Red Storm are 1st Team All-BIG EAST performer D’Angelo Harrison and BIG EAST All-Rookie team member Rysheed Jordan. Harrison is a deadly scorer who is the leading returning scorer in the Big East after finishing last season 3rd (17.7 ppg) behind Doug McDermott and Bryce Cotton. Jordan is the straw that stirred the drink for St. John’s last season. After a slow start to his college career it was no coincidence that Jordan’s improved play accompanied St. John’s mid-season 6 game winning streak that included a beat-down of the Providence Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and a win over Creighton at Madison Square Garden.

This has the makings of a very important contest for these two teams in terms of the standings and Providence would like nothing more than to get another win at MSG. For St. John’s this Saturday afternoon game will cap off a 6 day period where they welcome Duke to MSG on Sunday 1/25 and travel to Omaha to take on Creighton on Wednesday 1/28. There also stands to be a solid turnout of Friar fans at MSG because they have a strong alumni base in NYC. This game begins the toughest 4 game stretch of Providence’s season schedule. Of the 4 games, the first three are all road games before the Friars welcome Villanova to the Dunk on 2/11.

Game 10: at Georgetown

  • Where: Verizon Center – Washington, DC
  • When: 2/4/15 9:00pm
  • How: CBS Sports Network/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 69
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 65

This will close out the season series between Georgetown and Providence. Providence will be coming off that game at MSG against St. John’s while the Hoyas will be returning from a trip to Creighton. A late tip on a Wednesday night might mean the crowd is a little bit thinner than usual at the Verizon Center. The Hoyas will be coming off a home game against Xavier on 1/27 and a road game at Creighton on 1/31 when they welcome the Friars to DC. While this game marks the 2nd straight road contest for Providence, it’s likely they will return to Rhode Island after playing St. John’s and will travel to DC either on gameday or the night before.

Game 11: at Xavier

  • Where: Cintas Center – Cincinnati, OH
  • When: 2/7/15 1:00pm
  • How: Fox Sports 1/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 47
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 59

This will wrap up the road portion of this daunting 4 game stretch ending on 2/11 vs. Villanova. Xavier was 7-2 at the Cintas Center during their inaugural campaign in the Big East with their two losses coming vs. Seton Hall on February 1st and vs. Villanova on the final day of the Big East regular season. This will close out the season series between Xavier and Providence after the first game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center taking place just 16 days earlier as game 1 of this 6 game block. The Musketeers’ games between their contest in Providence on 1/22 and this game on 2/7 include road trips to Georgetown on 1/27 and Seton Hall on 1/31 and home games vs. DePaul on 1/24 and vs. Creighton directly preceding their 2nd game against the Friars on 2/4. A Saturday early afternoon start could mean the teams come out a little sluggish but either way I would expect this game to be pretty low scoring.

Game 12: vs. Villanova

  • Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
  • When: 2/11/15 8:00pm
  • How: Fox Sports 1/WEEI 103.7 FM
  • Last season’s final RPI: 5
  • Last season’s final Kenpom rating: 14

The final game of this second 6 game block is against the team that most people think will win the Big East this season. Villanova will be coming off home games against Marquette on 2/4 and Georgetown on 2/7 before they travel to Rhode Island for this game and then Indianapolis to take on Butler on 2/14. The Wildcats have everyone back from last year’s team that was the regular season Big East champs except for James Bell. They also are adding two top 100 recruits to the roster in SF Mikal Bridges and PG Phil Booth.  Last year’s game between these two at the Dunk was a double overtime thriller with Ryan Arcidiacono converting a three point play to beat the Friars 82-79 after LaDontae Henton hit two 3 pointers towards the end of regulation – one was waived off because Cooley had called timeout before the shot went up –  to send the game into overtime.

The player that Providence has struggled against the most on Villanova’s squad is JayVaughn Pinkston. Pinkston has killed the Friars with a career average of 19.2 points per game in 5 career games against PC. Containing Pinkston would go a long way towards Providence getting a win against the talented Wildcats.

The return game of this series where the Friars will travel to Philadelphia appears in the final 6 game block and is only 13 days after this one.

Summary

After a first 6 game block that isn’t overly daunting, the Friars have a very tough second 6 game block which concludes with their toughest 4 game stretch of the season on the road at St. John’s, Georgetown and Xavier and finishing up at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center against Villanova. If the Friars can manage to go 3-3 during this tough block of games they would likely be just above .500 in conference play heading into the final 6 games of the season. Those final 6 won’t be easy but a solid 3-3 stretch during block 2 would make getting to 10 or more conference wins a lot more attainable.

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