Georgetown has won three straight including a great non conference win against No. 7 Michigan State. On the flip side, Providence has lost three of its last four and it seems these two Big East co-founders are headed in opposite directions as NCAA Tournament hopes are on the line in Washington, D.C. tonight.
The Friars come in with an RPI of 50, and have two Top 50 RPI wins over 13 Creighton and 46 Xavier. They are 2-4 against Top 50 RPI teams and their only loss outside the Top 100 is against 114 Seton Hall.
The Hoyas could end up being a nightmare for the selection committee as they sit with an RPI of 60 with Top 50 wins over 11 Michigan State, 27 VCU and 36 Kansas State. However, their only win against a Top 100 Big East team was against 63 St. John's, who seems to be on the rise. With two wins each against DePaul and Butler, the Hoyas are in desperate need of a big time conference win. Their loss to 218 Northeastern may be the one big black mark on their resume. For the Hoyas to be considered, they must get over .500 in conference play and a win tonight would put them at that mark.
The first time these two tipped off in Providence, the Friars ended an eight game losing streak to Georgetown with a commanding 70-52 victory. In the conference, the three through eight spot is separated by just 2 games and is begging for someone to step up and assert themselves as the third team behind Villanova and Creighton.
The key for Providence is to get Tyler Harris going. In their last 4 wins, he's scored 52 points with just 6 turnovers, but in their last four losses, he has gone for just 12 points with 15 turnovers. He is the one player besides Bryce Cotton who can create his own shot and can score from inside and outside. He continues to have mental lapses where Ed Cooley is forced to sit him for periods of time that result in some pretty horrific offense by those remaining on the floor.
Kadeem Batts had his best game of the year last time out against Georgetown, going for 21 points on 6-9 shooting. WIthout Josh Smith, Georgetown is vulnerable on the inside, especially if Nate Lubick and Mikael Hopkins are plagued with foul trouble. Even if they aren't, Batts is more talented than both of them and should be able to get some early touches that gives him the confidence he needs to play up to his ability.
With just two guards in Bryce Cotton and Josh Fortune, the Hoyas may look to put some pressure on them as St. John's and Xavier has in their recent wins over Providence. Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera can put up points in bunches and both average a hair under 17 points per game.
Both teams are as deep as your local YMCA men's league team. Both have been forced to play walk on's for large stretches of games, Providence's Ted Bancroft and the Hoyas' John Caprio. In their first meeting, the two combined to play just 13 players, 7 for the Hoyas and 6 for the Friars, for any significant minutes.
Below is a comparison of the two senior leaders for both team, Bryce Cotton and Markel Starks. Their true shooting percentage True shooting percentage takes into account two-point attempts, three-point attempts and free throws attempts to get an all inclusive idea of how well a they are shooting. It also takes a look at their possession percentage, because these two will have the ball in their hands for large parts of the shot clock and both teams depend on them to do so much. It takes into account the number of field goals attempted, the number of offensive rebounds, the number of turnovers and number of free throws attempted.
Prediction: If Cotton can stay above Starks in both these categories like he has all season, look for the Friars to pull out the victory at the Verizon Center and stay in the NCAA conversation for another week.
Providence 65 Georgetown 58