Last season, Kris Dunn, Ben Bentil, and the Providence Friars came to the Wells Fargo Center and knocked off Villanova in an 82-76 overtime thriller. This season, the Friars head to Wells Fargo under much different circumstances. Sans Dunn and Bentil, Providence will be in for a much tougher go on Saturday afternoon.
The Friars head into Saturday on a two-game win streak, one that’s improved their record to 13-7 overall, and 3-4 in the Big East. Villanova comes in riding a four-game win streak to improve themselves to 18-1 on the season, including a 6-1 record in conference play.
Here’s the lowdown headed into Saturday’s matinee matchup:
How to Watch/Stream/Listen
Tip Time: Noon
TV: FOX (Tim Brando, Jim Jackson, Shannon Spake), Fox Sports Go app
Radio: WEEI FM 103.7 for Providence, WTEL AM 610 for Villanova
Villanova leads the all-time series 59-38, including a 30-13 mark in Philadelphia. Last season, the Wildcats took two of three, including wins at Providence and at Madison Square Garden in the Big East Tournament.
This is the first matchup this season.
Per OddsShark, Villanova opens as a 16.5 point favorite, and the Over/Under sits at 130. The Friars are 11-9 against the spread, while the Wildcats are a 13-6 against the spread.
Three Things to Watch
1) Can Providence shoot well enough to hang close?
The Friars’ three-point shooting has made leaps and bounds over the course of the season, and it’s a big reason why they controlled the entire game against Georgetown on MLK Day.
Jalen Lindsey leads the Friars with a 46.5 percent mark from long range, but he’s far from their lone threat. Kyron Cartwright chips in at a 39.1 percent clip, Isaiah Jackson at 37 percent, and Ryan Fazekas at 36.7 percent. It’s no secret that Villanova can shoot it; the question is if Providence can come close to matching the Wildcats’ output from beyond the arc. If they can, expect this game to be closer than many think.
2) Who will distribute better?
Jalen Brunson and Kyron Cartwright are two of the Big East’s best point guards. Brunson, however, has proven to be much more consistent over the course of the season, despite his lower assist numbers. He’s careful with the ball, is a smart scorer, and a plus defender.
When Cartwright’s at his best, however, he can match Brunson blow for blow. He’s led the charge in victories over Rhode Island, Memphis, Seton Hall, and Georgetown, some of the better wins of Providence’s season. If this remains the case on Saturday, he can balance out Brunson and give Ed Cooley and company confidence that they can hang tough.
3) Jalen Lindsey vs. Josh Hart
Hart, to put it lightly, is the toughest individual matchup the Friars have faced this season. He can score both inside and outside, and isn’t afraid to mix things up on the glass (see last season in Providence as a reference). In all likelihood, Cooley will turn to the junior Lindsey to slow down Hart’s output.
Lindsey, just as he’s done with his three-point shooting, has taken huge strides on the defensive side of the ball, as well. He’s been tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player day in and day out, but Hart presents as tough a challenge as he’s had this year. If Hart runs wild, his teammates go with him; it’s up to Lindsey to bring him back to the rest of the pack.