The Providence Friars come into Saturday afternoon’s match-up with the UMass Minutemen on a roll. The 7-2 Friars, victors in three straight and six of seven games, rolled to a 95-57 victory over crosstown rival Brown on Tuesday afternoon, but face a much stiffer test in UMass. The Minutemen head into Saturday 6-2, and hold impressive victories over both Temple and Harvard to start the season.
Here’s what to look for on Saturday afternoon:
How to watch, listen, or stream
Tip-Off: Noon ET
TV: FS1 (Alex Faust, Tarik Turner)
Radio: 103.7 WEEI for Providence, WEEI 105.5 FM for UMass
Live Stream: FOX Sports Go (Where Available)
The Friars come into the game with a 24-7 all time advantage over the Minutemen, including victories in the last two contests. The Minutemen’s last victory came in 2013 at the Mullins Center in Amherst.
The Friars are also 11-2 all time at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center against UMass.
The Friars open, per OddsShark, as an 8.5 point favorite. The Over/Under sits at 137.
Three Things to Watch
1) Can Providence stay hot from 3?
Last season’s three-point struggles are well documented in Friartown. However, Providence has turned a corner thus far this season, and have emerged as a quality three-point shooting team. The question now, is if they can continue their hot streak from beyond the arc.
The Friars currently have four rotation players shooting at a 40+ percent clip from three: Jalen Lindsey (19-38, 50%), Kyron Cartwright (8-19, 42%), Ryan Fazekas (12-29, 41%), and Isaiah Jackson (5-11, 45%). Not far behind is Rodney Bullock (18-47, 38%) Granted, these are small sample sizes, but there seems to be a marked improvement in an area that was a huge question mark headed into the season.
If Providence heats up from three early, they can bury the Minutemen from the get-go; what remains to be seen is if they can actually do so.
2) Slowing down Donte Clark
Simply put, Donte Clark can flat out ball. He comes into Saturday averaging 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. For Providence, stopping him is the key to continuing their impressive defensive streak.
Clark seems like a job for Lindsey; his length and athleticism can at least slow him down. However, Ed Cooley is known for throwing different looks at his counterparts, so don’t be surprised if the Friars go with a zone look at times as well.
3) Limiting Turnovers
As good as Cartwright has been at times, he’s also been through stretches where he can’t help but turn the ball over. This may come to a head on Saturday, when he will likely match up with UMass freshman Luwane Pipkins. Pipkins, like Cartwright, is an undersized but scrappy defender, and comes in averaging 3.9 steals per game.
It’s crucial that Cartwright take care of the ball on Saturday. Although he’s improved and cut down on his mistakes, he and the rest of the Friars will have to be sharp in order to avoid a letdown at the Dunk.