Big East Tournament Semifinal Game Notes & Preview: #4 Providence 22-10 (11-7) vs #1 Villanova 30-2 (16-2) 3/13/15

Where: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY

When: 7:00 PM

How: Fox Sports 1 (Gus Johnson & Jim Jackson with Molly McGrath on sideline)/WEEI 103.7 FM and (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • This will mark the 94th meeting all-time between Providence and Villanova. The series is currently led by Villanova, 56-37. The series led by Villanova, 6-1, when played during the Big East Tournament. Providence went 0-2 against Villanova during the regular season. This game is the 2nd time Providence has played Villanova as the 4 seed. The Friars won that game in 1994 when Villanova was the 5 seed.
  • Villanova is currently on a 13 game winning streak and enters Friday’s game with 30 wins. This is just the second time in program history that the Wildcats have recorded 30 wins in a season with the other occurrence being the 2008-09 team whose 30th win came in the East Regional Finals against Pittsburgh. Jay Wright was named the Big East Coach of the Year on Wednesday and Ryan Arcidiacono shared Player of the Year honors with Kris Dunn. The Wildcats are led in scoring by senior Darrun Hilliard, who averages 14.1 points/game. Villanova is led in rebounding by junior Daniel Ochefu, who averages 8.3 rebounds/game.
  • Providence is playing in their second consecutive semifinal game of the Big East Tournament. In their win over St. John’s on Thursday Providence had 3 players record double-doubles in Ben Bentil, Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton.
  • LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn were unanimous selections to the First Team All-Big East. Dunn shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year with Sir’Dominic Pointer and Big East Player of the Year with Ryan Arcidiacono. 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. Dunn is also Providence’s first player in Big East history to win Player of the Year.
  • LaDontae Henton moved ahead of Eric Murdock on Thursday with 20 points and now holds 3rd place on the all-time points scored list at Providence with 2,032 career points. Henton trails Jimmy Walker by 13 points for 2nd all-time. Henton grabbed his 1,000th rebound on March 1st and he’s now 5th all-time in a tie with Michael Smith at 1,038 career rebounds. Henton trails Geoff McDermott by 17 boards for 4th. Carson Desrosiers is 7th on the all-time blocked shots list at Providence College with 159 blocks through 64 career games as a Friar. Desrosiers is 7 blocks behind Rich Hunger for 6th place in school history. Kris Dunn‘s 234 assists this season rank him 6th on the all-time assists in a season list. Next on the list is God Shammgod, who had 239 assists in the 1996-97 season.
  • The line opened with Providence as an 8 point underdog.

Kenpom InstaGamePrep™

Note: Stats include games through March 12th vs D-1 teams only

Game Preview

Another day, another game people believe Providence will lose. This one may be slightly more justified than a 4/5 matchup as the Friars will take on the 1 seeded and 4th ranked nationally Villanova Wildcats Friday night in the Big East Tournament semifinals. Ed Cooley told his team after Thursday afternoon’s win that no one would give them a chance against a Wildcat team that blew the Friars off the Pavilion court last time they met.

I could give you the “well they got blown out by Creighton on Doug McDermott’s Senior Night and then beat them a week later to win the Big East Tournament last year” line but that would just be playing into a silly narrative. The reality is that this game will be a massive challenge for the Friars. Maybe Cooley and his staff can dust off that same active zone they played against McDermott’s Bluejays a year ago but whatever they decide to do they better defend that 3-point line. Villanova tied a school and Big East Tournament record by knocking down 17 3-pointers in their 35 point blowout win over Marquette in their quarterfinal game Thursday. In fact, the Wildcats made more 3’s than 2’s against the Golden Eagles and they assisted on 22 of their 30 made field goals. That’s some pretty highly efficient offense. Villanova now has 14 games this season where they have made at least 10 3-pointers. Most scary for Providence is this is the 7th game out of their last 8 played in which the Wildcats have eclipsed 10 made 3’s. As Cooley said during his postgame press conference Thursday afternoon, a team doesn’t have much of a chance to win if they are giving up 10+ 3’s in a game.

Unfortunately for the Friars I have a feeling this Villanova team is on a mission. They are playing extremely well right now and are a very difficult matchup for Providence due to their ability to move the ball around the perimeter and make shots. The Friars may keep it close like it was in the game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center but I think the Wildcats will ultimately be too much for Providence.

Prediction: Providence 70 Villanova 79

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