Where: Prudential Center – Newark, NJ
When: 7:00pm EST
- Providence and Seton Hall will meet for the 99th time on Thursday with the Friars leading the series, 51-47. The Friars are 21-26 in games played at Seton Hall. Providence dropped their first game this season against the Pirates on January 16th at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, 81-72.
- Seton Hall is 19-7 (9-5) on the season. The Pirates are led by Kevin Willard, who is in his 6th season at the helm of the Seton Hall program. The Pirates have won 6 of their last 7 Big East games after starting 3-4 in their first 7 league contests. The Pirates are led in scoring by sophomore Isaiah Whitehead, who averages 16.6 points/game. Sophomore Angel Delgado is the leading rebounder, averaging 9.8 rebounds/game.
- The Friars dropped out of the AP Poll this week and are 24th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll after losing at Xavier last week. Falling out of the AP Poll ends a streak of 12 straight weeks with the Friars ranked in that publication’s Top 25, the longest such streak since the 1977-78 season.
- Kris Dunn is closing in on some career milestones. He recently became the 6th Friar to amass 500 career assists. Dunn went over the 1,000 point mark on January 30th against Georgetown on a spectacular finish at the rim. His 1,105 career points ranks 36th all-time at Providence and just 5 points behind Michael Smith for 35th. Dunn also has 511 assists (6th all-time), 463 rebounds and 199 steals (6th all-time). Should Dunn get to the 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals club, he would become the only player in school history to have accomplished all of those feats.
- Opening Line: Providence +5.5 at Seton Hall 2/25/16
Providence and Seton Hall are two teams trending in opposite directions. The Friars are 3-4 in their last 7 games and Seton Hall is 6-1 in their last 7 contests. Ed Cooley’s bunch is coming off a road loss at Xavier and come into this game after their second Big East “bye week” that was likely much needed for both physical and mental healing. Seton Hall last played on Saturday against St. John’s and narrowly escaped a second half collapse by making some clutch free throws in the game’s final seconds. Providence is looking to avoid getting swept by Seton Hall for the first time in this version of the Big East. The Pirates are looking to return the favor after Providence has swept them last season.
The probable starters according to the game notes and prior box scores are:
- Kris Dunn – #3 – Junior
- Junior Lomomba – #32 – Junior
- Ryan Fazekas – #35 – Freshman
- Rodney Bullock – #5 – Sophomore
- Ben Bentil – #0 – Sophomore
- Isaiah Whitehead – #15 – Sophomore
- Derrick Gordon – #32 – Senior
- Desi Rodriguez – #20 – Sophomore
- Ismael Sanogo – #14 – Sophomore
- Angel Delgado – #31 – Sophomore
The keys to victory for Providence are:
- Force turnovers
- Free up Dunn
Seton Hall turned the ball over 19 times the last time these team’s met and Providence capitalized to the tune of 22 points off turnovers. Forcing Seton Hall into turnovers and converting those into easy transition points will go a long way towards helping this Providence team score points. They will have to shoot better than the 30% they managed last time against the Pirates, but transition opportunities usually come with a much higher conversion rate than a contested jump shot in the halfcourt.
Kris Dunn struggled to shed Derrick Gordon for much of the last game against Seton Hall. Gordon only has 3 starts this season and only 1 in Big East play. That 1 was against Providence and his sole job was to smother Dunn. I expect that gameplan to be the same for Kevin Willard. Providence’s offense is at it’s best when Dunn is dishing out lots of assists. His ability to operate and find teammates for scores fuels a much more efficient Friar offense. Dunn had only 2 assists last time to go along with 16 points before he fouled out with just over 3 minutes left in the game. Cooley may have to get creative to accomplish this task because Gordon is one of the best defensive pests in the Big East.
In terms of rebounding, Seton Hall is excellent at grabbing offensive rebounds and they certainly out-rebounded Providence last time the teams met. But, the offensive rebounding numbers actually favored Providence, 17-12, and much of the disparity in the overall rebounding numbers, 50-36, can be attributed to Providence taking 13 more shots than Seton Hall and missing a whopping 51 times from the field.
This is a very tough matchup for Providence because they have routinely struggled to score against good defensive teams with quick guards. Seton Hall is 21st nationally in defensive efficiency and they one of the best defensive guards in the league in Gordon. Providence could certainly use a win for their mental health, but I don’t think it comes on Thursday night in Newark.
Prediction: Providence 71 Seton Hall 77
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