When Providence and Georgetown tip off on Wednesday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, it will be a game that is as close to a must-win as is possible this early in conference play. Both teams are winless in conference play, but got there in drastically different ways.
Providence, who was 10-2 just two weeks ago, now sits at 10-5 after a disastrous stretch. The Friars had their doors blown off in three straight games: a lackadaisical performance at Boston College as a prelude to Big East play, and two blowout losses at Xavier and Butler to start their conference slate. Georgetown, on the other hand, played both Marquette and Xavier close, but were unable to close either game out with a win. The Hoyas come in at 8-6 overall.
Here’s what you need to know before the Hoyas and Friars go at it on Wednesday:
How to Watch/Listen
TV: 7 P.M., CBS Sports Network (Tom McCarthy, Steve Lappas, and Jamie Erdahl have the call)
Radio: 103.7 FM or Friars.com for Providence, 99.1 FM for Georgetown
Georgetown leads the all-time series 44-24, but are just 14-16 all time in Providence. The Friars have won the last four match-ups, including clean sweeps in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Providence opened as a 1.5 point favorite, per OddsShark. On the season, the Friars are 8-7 against the spread, while Georgetown is 4-8 against the spread.
1) Can Providence bounce back at home?
If the early part of the season is any indication, heading home after an 0-3 road stretch will be a blessing for the Friars. Providence finished up their nonconference slate 9-0 at home, and they come in just 1-5 away from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
It may seem cliche, but the Friars look comfortable at the Dunk: they feed off of the home crowd’s energy, and their top players like Rodney Bullock and Kyron Cartwright are typically on top of their games. For a desperate team in need things to go right early, the Friars can take comfort in the fact that they play at their best at home. The advantage may be nothing more than a mental one, but a team as snakebit as Providence will take any advantage they can get.
2) Battle of the Rodneys
Ironically enough, both teams are contingent on the success of a Rodney.
For the Hoyas, it’s Rodney Pryor. The grad transfer from Robert Morris has been nothing short of fantastic for John Thompson III, leading Georgetown with 20.1 points per game. Pryor can score from anywhere; he shoots 54.7 percent from the field overall, and his 49.4 percent three-point shooting will keep whatever Friar defender who is tasked with guarding him honest. He’ll likely be trailed by Jalen Lindsey, who has made strides as a defender in the early stages of the year, but Lindsey’s hands will be full just trying to slow Pryor down.
Rodney Bullock, the Friars’ star, comes in after two sub-par performances to start Big East play. His 17 points on 6-11 shooting against looks good after a cursory glance, but he struggled to truly make an early impact, with many of those points coming when the Friars were far behind. His performance against Xavier was, like the rest of the Friars, an abject disaster. He shot 1-11, failed to get to the free throw line, and finished with just two points. He’s still averaging 18.1 points on 44.3 percent shooting, and has pulled down 6.3 rebounds per game. It’s safe to say the Friars go as he goes, so he’ll have to be his normal self for Providence to win.
3) Jessie Govan: X-Factor?
The 6-10 sophomore for Georgetown could potentially present big time matchup problems for Ed Cooley and the Friars. Providence doesn’t trot out any player bigger than 6’8” Kalif Young, and starting center Emmitt Holt has been in and out of foul trouble in recent games.
Govan can score the basketball, but his impact can and will go beyond his own shooting. He’ll likely command help on defense, which will spring open shooters around the court for Georgetown. If Govan can establish himself as a presence, it will be a long night for the Friars defense.