Game Notes & Preview: Providence (9-2, 0-0) vs Maine (4-7, 0-0) 12/20/16

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI

When: 8:30pm EST

How: FS1 (Rich Ackerman & Vin Parise)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and Maine will meet for the 13th time ever on Tuesday. The Friars lead the all-time series, 11-1. The teams first met on November 25, 1978 when Providence defeated the Bears, 75-73. The last time these two teams played was December 21, 2013. All 12 previous games have been played at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
  • Providence is 56-6 all-time against teams from the America East Conference. The Friars are 2-0 this season after defeating Vermont on opening night and then New Hampshire on November 30th.
  • Maine is 4-7 this season. They have wins against Longwood, Holy Cross, Dartmouth and Division III University of Maine at Presque Isle. Their 7 losses came at the hands of Virginia Tech, Boston University, Northeastern, LIU Brooklyn, Central Connecticut, Duke and, most recently, at home against Quinnipiac on Sunday. The Bears are led by former Providence assistant and head coach at Rhode Island College Bob Walsh, who is in his 3rd season at the helm of the Maine program. Junior Wes Myers leads the Bears in scoring at 14.7 points/game. Freshman Andrew Fleming leads the team in rebounding, averaging 5.7 rebounds/game.
  • Opening Line: Providence -23.5 vs Maine 12/20/16

Game Preview

Providence enters their final week of the non-conference schedule coming off an impressive dismantling of the Wagner Seahawks on Saturday afternoon at the Dunk. Next up on Providence’s schedule is former Providence assistant coach Bob Walsh’s Maine Black Bears. When preparing for this game I was struck by how similar Maine’s offensive numbers are to Providence’s most recent opponent, Wagner. Neither team is very good on offense and the main differences are pace with Wagner being the slowest team in America (no, actually 351st in Average Possession Length), Maine gets way more shots blocked, turns the ball over much less and Wagner grabs a ton more offensive rebounds. The Bears and Seahawks have very similar shooting numbers, though.

On the defensive end, Maine’s opponents are shooting 39.3% from beyond the arc, which ranks the Bears 297th nationally. They also block the 4th-fewest shots at 3.9% in the country. Providence probably doesn’t need to shoot lights out to beat Maine, but if the Friars come out firing this one could be over early.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

Providence
Maine

The key to victory for Providence is to shut down Wes Myers. Myers is Maine’s leading scorer despite coming off the bench the last 3 games. The transfer from Niagara took 33 shots in his last two games in 56 minutes of action on the court against Dartmouth and Quinnipiac. He scored 31 points in Maine’s win over Dartmouth and 21 in their loss to Quinnipiac. One other player for Providence to keep an eye on when he’s on the court is Ilker Er. Er is a 6’6 wing from Turkey who is shooting 41.8% from 3-point range in 19.6 minutes/game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ed Cooley throw some 3/4-court press at Maine to see if they can get some easy buckets early to try to kill the Bears’ spirits.

Prediction: Providence 82 Maine 58

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