Game Notes & Preview: Providence (8-2, 0-0) vs Wagner (3-5, 0-0) 12/17/16

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI

When: 12:00pm EST

How: FS1 (Alex Faust & Vin Parise)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and aJoe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and Wagner will meet for the 4th time ever on Saturday. The Friars lead the all-time series, 3-0. The teams first met on February 26, 1947 when Providence defeated the Seahawks, 73-64. The last time these two teams played was December 29, 1988.
  • Providence is 53-12 all-time against teams from the Northeast Conference. The Friars are 1-0 this season after defeating St. Francis (NY) as part of the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic.
  • Wagner is 3-5 this season. They opened the season with an upset win over UConn on the road. Their other two wins came against American and Morgan State. Their losses are against UMass-Lowell, Fairfield, Rider, UMass and Monmouth. The Seahawks are led by Bashir Mason, who is in his 5th season at the helm of the Wagner program after taking over for current URI coach Dan Hurley. Junior Corey Henson leads the Seahawks in scoring at 14.7 points/game. Senior Michael Carey leads the team in rebounding, averaging 8.3 rebounds/game.
  • Opening Line: Providence -14.5 vs Wagner 12/17/16

Game Preview

Providence is coming off a week-long final exam break and the Friars welcome the Wagner Seahawks to the Dunk for a noon tip. Wagner shocked the basketball world on the season’s opening night by beating UConn by 10 on the road. Since then UConn has stumbled a few more times and Wagner has only won two of their next 7 games. The Seahawks have the longest Average Possession Length in the nation at 20.9 seconds. They also have one of the worst Offensive Turnover % at 20.9%. That’s 306th nationally. They do have one of the better Offensive Rebounding % at 39.4%, good for 12th in the country. But that seems to be a product of 61% of their halfcourt shot attempts being either 2-point or 3-point jumper, per Hoop-Math.com. That many jumpers leads to more long rebound chances. This Wagner team doesn’t have the size of a North Carolina who leads the nation in OR % at 43.2%.

The Seahawks showed a 1-3-1 zone defense in their last game against Morgan State. Providence has struggled against Xavier’s 1-3-1 in recent years, though I’m not sure Wagner always has the same kind of size at the top that Xavier employs with JP Macura. Wagner mainly used 6’3 Corey Henson at the top to pressure the ball handler. That will be an interesting thing to watch for as the ball goes up in the air on Saturday afternoon.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

Providence
Wagner

The keys to victory for Providence are speed up the tempo and limit Wagner’s offense rebounding. Wagner plays the slowest in the country in terms of Average Possession Length. If Providence speeds them up, I would expect to see a bushel of turnovers by the Seahawks. They have had 20.7% of possession on defense be in transition. That’s a pretty high amount of transition defense. Providence doesn’t run a ton, but they have been very good when they get out in transition. They also force a lot of turnovers and they should be able to convert some of those turnovers into extra points. Despite Wagner’s size they do get a lot of offensive rebounds. Providence has been very good at defending jumpshots this season so if they can shut down the Wagner shooters then limiting the extra possessions caused by giving up an offensive rebound should cripple any chances Wagner has of scoring enough points to win.

Prediction: Providence 75 Wagner 60

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