Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Center – Providence, RI
When: 6:30pm EST
- Providence and Minnesota will meet for the third time ever on Monday night with the Golden Gophers holding a 2-0 series lead. Both matchups happened in the early 1990’s with the first one coming in the 1991 Maui Invitational and the second and more recent contest taking place in the 1993 NIT Semifinals.
- This game is the first this season of the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series that pits eight Big East teams against four Big Ten teams during the first week of the season each year. This is now the third annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, named in honor of the late Dave Gavitt who is a former Providence coach and the founder of the Big East conference. Each of the first two seasons saw the leagues split the series, 4-4. Providence is 1-1 in Gavitt Tipoff Games with the win coming against Illinois at home in November 2015 and the loss coming on the road last season at Ohio State.
- Providence is 46-1 all-time in regular season non-conference games at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center under Ed Cooley with the lone loss coming at the hands of Brown in December 2014.
- Last time Providence played a non-conference opponent ranked in the Top 25 at home was November 2006 when 23rd ranked Boston College came to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in their 2nd year in the ACC. The last time a Top 15 non-conference opponent came to the Dunk was December 2005 when 7th ranked Memphis coached by John Calipari beat the Friars on their way to the Elite 8 that season.
- Minnesota is coming off a 24-13 season that ended with loss to Middle Tennessee in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Gophers are coached by Providence alumnus Richard Pitino who is in his 5th season at Minnesota. This is the first time Pitino has coached against his alma mater. Minnesota is 44-32 all-time against the current members of the Big East. Senior guard Nate Mason is the leading returning scorer and he was First Team All-Big Ten last season. Senior center Reggie Lynch was the 2017 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Minnesota opened the 2017-18 season win a 92-77 win over USC Upstate on Friday night. Junior wing Jordan Murphy scored a career-high 35 points in the win. Lynch posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Friars defeated Houston Baptist, 84-55, in their first time out this season at Alumni Hall on Friday night. The Friars controlled the action early and led by as many as 30 in the game. Sophomore Maliek White led the Friars with 13 points off the bench among a balanced attack that also saw Isaiah Jackson (11) and Kyron Cartwright (10) score in double figures. Cartwright notched his fourth career double-double adding 10 assists. Cartwright has now climbed into solo 12th on the all-time assist ledger at Providence with 460 helpers. He came into the season tied with John Linehan in 12th and now trails Bryce Cotton by 2 dimes to enter the top 10.
Providence and Minnesota are both veteran led teams coming off NCAA Tournament appearances last season. They both handled their opening night opponents with relative ease and all attention now turns to a tough early-season test. Neither Providence game has been consistently lined this season, though there were some places that had Providence anywhere from an 18.5 to 21.5 point favorite on Friday night against Houston Baptist. It isn’t clear whether it’s the uncertainty of Jalen Lindsey‘s status for this game, though he seems likely to play, or some other unknown factor that is keeping Vegas and their off-shore friends away from this game between two high major programs, but the game is currently not listed on any betting boards. The Friars did open briefly as a 3.5 point favorite and the Over/Under was at 127.5 during a brief stint open.
As for the matchup, the Golden Gophers calling card a season ago was defense. They ranked 22nd nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency by Kenpom.com and some of the notable numbers underneath that ranking were 10th in Effective FG% (45.1%), 13th in 3P% (30.9%) and 2nd in Block% (15.9%). Pitino’s team returns basically everyone from last year’s team and they add a top 100 point guard recruit in Isaiah Washington to the mix. The key players for Providence to focus on will be Jordan Murphy, Reggie Lynch and Nate Mason. Murphy lit up USC Upstate on Friday night to the tune of 35 points and 15 rebounds.
The probable starters according to the game notes are:
- Kyron Cartwright – #24 – Senior
- Alpha Diallo – #11 – Sophomore
- Isaiah Jackson – #44 – Junior
- Rodney Bullock – #5 – Senior
- Kalif Young – #13 – Sophomore
- Nate Mason – #2 – Senior
- Dupree McBrayer – #1 – Junior
- Amir Coffey – #5 – Sophomore
- Jordan Murphy – #3 – Junior
- Reggie Lynch – #22 – Senior
The keys to victory for Providence are to keep Murphy, Lynch and Co. away from offensive rebounds and try to attack the offensive glass on the other end of the floor. Murphy is especially dangerous and effective at scoring after an offensive rebound. Last season 93 of Murphy’s points, or nearly 25% of his season total, came on offensive rebound putbacks. Conversely, the Golden Gophers were vulnerable giving up offensive rebounds on the other end of the floor, ranking 222nd in the country at 30.2%.
The Friars should see a boost in the lineup with the expected return of Jalen Lindsey to the mix, but getting Rodney Bullock on track would also go a long way towards boosting Providence’s offensive output. Alpha Diallo could be just as valuable on the defensive end in this game to match up with Minnesota’s lengthy wings and guards, but getting Lindsey back would take some of that pressure off the sophomore.
This will be a tough test for both teams and while I would generally favor the home team in a game like this early in the season a big concern will be the veteran frontline of Minnesota against the more inexperienced group for Providence. Guard play should be fun to watch between seniors Kyron Cartwright and Nate Mason and the talented freshmen Makai Ashton-Langford and Isaiah Washington. If Providence wins this game, though, it will likely be because their big men held their own or outplayed Minnesota’s. No matter who wins look first at the offensive rebounds stat column to see if that tells the story.
Prediction: Providence 65 Minnesota 67
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