Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
When: 2:30 PM
- This will mark the 106th meeting all-time between Providence and St. John’s. The series is currently led by St. John’s, 60-45. The series led by Providence, 4-2, when played during the Big East Tournament. Providence went 0-2 against St. John’s during the regular season. This game is the 3rd time Providence and St. John’s will meet as the #4 and #5 seeds in the Big East Tournament. The first game was in March 1987 and the second game was last season.
- Providence is technically the home team because they are the better seeded team but St. John’s is home for RPI purposes.
- St. John’s finished up the regular season going 1-1 in the final week. The win came on March 4th at Marquette and the loss came at Villanova on March 7th. That Marquette win gave St. John’s their 10th league win. The Red Storm are led in scoring by senior D’Angelo Harrison, who averages 17.8 points/game. That is second in the Big East this season behind LaDontae Henton. St. John’s is led in rebounding by senior Sir’Dominic Pointer, who averages 7.6 rebounds/game. That mark is good enough for 4th in the Big East.
- Providence is coming off a road win at Seton Hall and a home loss to Butler in their final week of the regular season. The Friars came out slow in both games during the first 20 minutes and turned it on in the second half. That was enough to overcome Seton Hall but not Butler. The Friars finished with 21 wins. This is the 10th time a Providence team has accomplished that feat. Their 11 Big East wins marks only the 3rd time in school history that the Friars have won 11 games Big East play. Providence has never won more than 11 Big East games in a season.
- LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn were unanimous selections to the First Team All-Big East and Dunn shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year with Sir’Dominic Pointer. Henton finished the season leading the Big East in scoring at 20.1 points/game. He’s the 6th Friar to accomplish that and the 3rd Friar in the last 5 seasons to lead the Big East in scoring (Bryce Cotton – 2013, Marshon Brooks – 2011, Herbert Hill – 2007, Ryan Gomes – 2005). Dunn finished the season leading the Big East in assists and steals. He is the first player to ever accomplish that. Dunn is now the 3rd straight Friar to lead the Big East in assists (Bryce Cotton – 2014, Vincent Council – 2013 & 2012) and Dunn is the 6th Providence player ever to lead the Big East in assists.
- LaDontae Henton remains in 4th place on the all-time points scored list at Providence with 2,012 career points. Henton trails Eric Murdock by 9 points for 3rd all-time. Henton grabbed his 1,000th rebound on March 1st and he’s now 2 boards behind Ryan Gomes for 6th all-time. Carson Desrosiers is 7th on the all-time blocked shots list at Providence College with 157 blocks through 63 career games as a Friar. Desrosiers is 9 blocks behind Rich Hunger for 6th place in school history. Kris Dunn‘s 223 assists this season rank him 7th on the all-time assists in a season list. Next on the list is Vincent Council, who had 231 assists in the 2011-12 season.
- The line opened with Providence as a 1.5 point underdog.
Note: Stats include games through March 10th vs D-1 teams only
“I don’t know about this St. John’s game.” “St. John’s is the one team I didn’t want to see in the Big East Tournament.”
These are common sentiments that I’ve heard expressed by Providence fans in the last few days. As I wrote yesterday nearly 89% of voters in a poll on this site back on February 26th said the team they wanted Providence to avoid most in the Big East Tournament was St. John’s.
I could give you some stats and numbers that might make you feel better about Providence’s chances but the reality is that with how easily St. John’s swept the Friars during the regular season I doubt stats and numbers will convince you or be a comfort. Not to mention I’m sure I can find some stats and numbers that would make you even less comfortable if I tried.
Ed Cooley and his staff will have had 4 days of prep and practice prior to Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup with the Red Storm. I expect the Friars to come out loose and just play. That’s the advice Cooley gave Kris Dunn at halftime of the Seton Hall game on March 4th. Dunn’s second half numbers in that win: 17 points on 6/8 from the field and 5/6 from the free throw line, 7 assists, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 19 minutes.
LaDontae Henton will be looking to rebound after a tough outing on his Senior Day on March 7th against Butler. Henton will likely see a heavy dose of Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year Sir’Dominic Pointer but I expect Cooley and his staff have figured out a few new tricks to run Henton off screens to get him some open looks. St. John’s is playing on their home floor and the Red Storm are, like Providence, solidly in the NCAA Tournament at this point. Chris Obekpa and Jamal Branch will reportedly play but will still be game-time decisions for Thursday after missing the Red Storm’s regular season finale on March 7th against Villanova.
The winner of this game likely gets Villanova in the semifinals on Friday night. Both Providence and St. John’s have blowout losses against the Wildcats this year and I’m sure each would like another shot at the #4 team in the land. I expect Providence will get that chance.
Prediction: Providence 71 St. John’s 67
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