Seton Hall Pirates (18-9, 7-7) vs. Providence Friars (17-10, 8-6)
WHERE: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI
WHEN: 6:30 p.m.
LINE: PC -1.5
ALL-TIME: Providence leads 52-50
Before the season began, if you had told me that this game between Seton Hall and Providence would have major NCAA bubble implications, I would have checked you into a mental institution.
Back in November, this matchup was thought to be a battle between two conference heavyweights, perhaps two teams in the Top 25.
Instead, Providence limped through nonconference play and has been inconsistent all season, while Seton Hall lived up to expectations through the first two months of the season before stumbling through a 4-7 stretch they find themselves in entering tonight.
A good omen perhaps for the Pirates: the last time they won consecutive games was January 28-31, when they took down DePaul and Providence. Coming off a home win over the Blue Demons, the Pirates hope to see history repeat itself.
However, a lot of that will be dependent on which Providence team we see tonight. Will we see the team that took down Villanova last week when four starters scored in double digits? Or will we see the team that got crushed in Newark last time PC and SHU met up, when Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey were both held scoreless?
This Providence team is so hard to get a read on. First, DePaul rolls into the Dunk and takes down the Friars by 17. Next time out, Providence upsets No. 3 Villanova. Then, they go to Hinkle and lose by 15 to Butler.
The Big East is drunk. Should they rename PC’s arena The Drunk?
That’s a discussion for another time.
Anyway, if Providence comes out tonight the way they did against Seton Hall last time, don’t expect a close one. But if the Friars play up to their potential, we could be in for a nail-biter.
In recent games for Seton Hall, Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell have been the catalysts. Rodriguez, coming off being named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll, has averaged 23.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and is shooting 52 percent from the field over the last five games. He dropped a career-high 33 points in the win over DePaul on Sunday.
Powell had huge second half performances against both Georgetown and Xavier in losing efforts, including a career-high 30 against the Musketeers last Wednesday. The sophomore is averaging 17.8 PPG on the road this season and is shooting 45 percent from behind the arc in those games.
The Pirates can gain an advantage in this game out on the perimeter. Providence is shooting just 30.3 percent from deep in conference play, meaning the perimeter defense of the Pirates, which hasn’t been too great in recent games, won’t have to worry too much about Providence going on a three-point barrage.
However, Providence has the best three-point defense in league play, allowing their opponents to shoot just 32 percent from deep. Look for the Pirates to be setting lots of screens on the perimeter to open up looks for Powell and Rodriguez, but Seton Hall will have to play this game close to the basket.
Expect a close game tonight that will be played in the 60’s. As to who wins, it’s anyone’s guess. Both of these teams desperately need a victory.