Game Notes & Preview: Providence (14-9, 4-6) vs (4) Villanova (20-2, 7-2) 2/1/17

Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI

When: 7:00pm EST

How: FS1 (Joe Davis & Steve Lavin)/Fox Sports GO (Where Available)/WEEI 103.7 FM and Friars.com (John Rooke and Joe Hassett)/FriarTV

Game Notes

  • Providence and Villanova will meet for the 99th time ever on Wednesday. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 60-38. The Friars are 24-19 all-time against Villanova in Providence. Villanova defeated Providence, 78-68, earlier this season in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center on January 21st. The Wildcats received a #1 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament and went on to defeat North Carolina, the team Providence lost to in the Round of 32, to win the national championship.
  • Providence is 2-6 this season on the road against an 11-2 record at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The Friars are also 1-1 on neutral courts. Providence’s most recent win at home was against Seton Hall on January 14th. Their last home contest resulted in a loss, 91-86, to St. John’s on January 25th.
  • Providence is 10-55 all-time in games against teams ranked in the AP Top 5. Their most recent win came January 24, 2016 against then 4th-ranked Villanova at the Wells Fargo Center. The Friars were ranked 16th at the time of that game. Providence’s last win at home against a Top 5 team was February 24, 2009 when the Friars defeated #1 Pittsburgh. 59 of Providence’s 65 games against Top 5 teams has come when the Friars were unranked.
  • Villanova is 20-2 this season, including  a 7-2 Big East record. The Wildcats went 1-1 last week. Their loss came at the hands of Marquette at the Bradley Center on Tuesday and then they followed that up with a last-second win against then 12th-ranked Virginia at the Wells Fargo Center. Villanova was picked to finish 1st in the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll. The Wildcats are led by Jay Wright, who is in his 16th season at the helm of the Villanova program. Senior Josh Hart leads the Wildcats in scoring at 18.7 points/game, which ranks him first in the Big East. Hart also leads the team in rebounding,  averaging 6.5 rebounds/game, which ranks him 4th in the Big East.
  • Providence will host 2017 Daniel Mading for an official visit beginning Wednesday.
  • Opening Line: Providence +9 vs (4) Villanova 2/1/17

Game Preview

Providence returns to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center off their first ever win over Marquette in Milwaukee after going winless in their first 10 tries there against the Golden Eagles. The Friars are looking to get back on track at home after suffering a bad loss last Wednesday to St. John’s in which they gave up a Keno Avis-esque 91 points to the Red Storm. Providence’s last win over Villanova came when the Wildcats were ranked 4th in the country last season, though that game was played in Philadelphia and the Friars were ranked 16th.

Villanova is coming off an exciting tip-in at the buzzer win over the Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday in front of a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd. The win gives the Big East an 8-3 record against teams from the ACC, which is the most wins against the ACC by any other conference. Villanova was 12-0 in non-conference play and won their first 14 games before faltering at Butler on January 4th. They went on to win their next 5 games — culminating with their win at home against Providence on January 21st — before losing at Marquette last Tuesday. The road is even a tough place in the Big East for Villanova as their record away from Philadelphia is just 2-2.

The Wildcats play a brand of basketball that is tough to beat. They have veteran players and move the ball much more like an NBA team than a college team. They also have a go-to scorer who can take over the game in Wooden Award front-runner Josh Hart. When they are shooting the ball well they are virtually impossible to stop and even if their opponent shoots well Jay Wright’s club still finds ways to make enough winning plays to stay on the right side of the W-L column. Providence shot the ball well less than two weeks ago down in Philly, but Villanova dominated the glass, scored 21 points off 12 Providence turnovers and held the Friars at bay despite giving up 13 made 3-pointers.

The probable starters according to the game notes are:

Providence
Villanova

The keys to victory for Providence are get hot from beyond the arc, limit turnovers and defend the 3-point line. Providence will need to shoot well again from 3-point range in order to provide enough offensive firepower to beat this Villanova team. The Friars 13 made triples in the last matchup against the Wildcats wasn’t enough but a similar performance with a cleaner turnover and rebounding game could make the difference at home. Villanova was horrendous from beyond the arc in their loss at Marquette last week and the Wildcats still almost beat the Golden Eagles. Look for Ed Cooley to mix in zone again but be cautious of allowing Villanova to find openings on the wings or in the corners.

Prediction: Providence 64 (4) Villanova 72

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