How to Watch, Listen and Stream
Game Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1 (Tim Brando and Bill Raftery)
Live Stream: Fox Sports GO (Where Available)
Providence is a 3-point favorite. The Over/Under is 139.5. All odds are via OddsShark.com.
Xavier leads the all-time series, 7-3. Xavier beat Providence earlier this season on, 82-56, on December 28th in what was the Big East season-opener for both teams. Providence last beat Xavier on January 22, 2015 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in a game that required overtime. Xavier has won the last four meetings in a row.
What’s at Stake
Providence is still fighting to finish strong and get themselves onto the soft bubble to make a fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, something that has never happened in school history. The Friars dug themselves quite a hole in Big East play that started when they got their doors blown off by Xavier in game 1. The Musketeers are just hoping to tread water with a bruised and battered lineup that may include Trevon Bluiett missing this game. No official word on that from Chris Mack but with Providence opening as a 3-point favorite it seems Vegas thinks Bluiett will either not play or be limited.
Inside the Numbers
Xavier is best in the Big East and 15th nationally in rebound margin at +7.7 rpg. The Musketeers rank 25th nationally in Offensive Rebound % at 35.4% of their missed shots grabbed. Providence has an Adjusted Defensive Efficiency of 96.4, which ranks 44th nationally. The Friars are 50th in the country at Points Against/Game, averaging 66.3.
Five Questions with Banners on the Parkway
As is tradition, I spoke to Caleb Childers from BannersontheParkway.com and he was kind enough to answer five questions ahead of this game. You can see my answers to his five questions, including a critical answer to what future job Beyonce’s twins will have one day, can be found over at BOTP:
1) How badly does it hurt Xavier's chances if Trevon Bluiett sits out this game to help heal his ankle? What would be your preference on playing him versus sitting him?
Caleb Childers: At this point we're all doom and gloom and expecting the worst. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he missed this game and I'd honestly prefer he does. Not because Providence is weak, because that's simply not true, but because this team is already so depleted and running on fumes. If we expect to do anything in March at all we need Bluiett healthy. But let's say he is injured. Can you loan us a player? We might seriously be down to 5 scholarship guys by the end of this season. Help please.
2) Do you think Chris Mack deploys the vaunted 1-3-1 zone defense right from the start in this game or will he weaponize it and throw it at Providence out of a timeout late in the first half?
CC: I see it coming later as is his usual style. What makes it effective for us is that it is different. Teams prep for it, but the sudden shift to it messes with the entire rhythm of the game and usually to Xavier's advantage. Also can I say I am a huge fan of the 1-3-1. When I was a student at Xavier we were famous for great offense and often no defense, so the fact that we have key players injured and can still somewhat run the 1-3-1 makes me smile. The defense part, not the injury part. That really still stings and hurts.
3) How nervous are you about a freshman point guard the rest of the way?
CC: Hmmmm I think my answer on this has changed in the last week. The moment Sumner went down I was very doom and gloom and had no hope. But honestly, Quentin Goodin has stepped in and done a fine job. The dude has potential, and he scored 15 points at Creighton. I think as the season goes on he will get more used to the team and I think he is going to be just fine come tournament time. But he's a freshman, so of course he's going to make mistakes. So nervous about Goodin? Not really at all, but nervous that we're missing both Sumner and Davis the rest of the way? Make this nightmare stop.
4) Does the ghost of Matt Stainbrook drive you to hell in your nightmares or does he just drop you off in front of it? (Shoutout to BECB's Alex Sindelar for this question)
CC: I would gladly welcome Stainbrook into any of my dreams. I'm just so happy that every single broadcaster made sure I was aware he drove an Uber. I actually haven't had Stainbrook in a dream, but I did once have a dream that involved Brad Redford, our three point guy and ladies man from a few years back. It wasn't that weird, but it did make me question for a while why on Earth he was in my dream and not a player that I had actually met and spoken to.
5) Score prediction?
CC: At Providence and we're dropping guys like crazy. As much as I want Xavier to win, I think it's going to be Providence- 71 Xavier-67, and Mack is going to chew out the boys after this one.