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BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence Friars vs. Xavier Musketeers

One last test for visiting Providence. One last home game for Xavier.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

PROVIDENCE FRIARS VS. XAVIER MUSKETEERS

Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Watch Online: FOX Sports GO


TALE OF THE TAPE

PROVIDENCE FRIARS

Records: 18-11, 9-7 Big East, 10-18 ATS

Rankings: #72 KenPom

Last 5: 2-3 (W: Villanova, Georgetown // L: DePaul, Butler, Seton Hall)

Adjusted Efficiency Numbers: 110.0 (Off., 99th) // 99.1 (Def., 51st)

Leading Scorer: Rodney Bullock (14.4 PPG)

Leading Assist Man: Kyron Cartwright (5.9 APG)

Leading Rebounder: Alpha Diallo (6.5 RPG)

XAVIER MUSKETEERS

Records: 25-4, 13-3 Big East, 20-9 ATS

Rankings: #3 AP, #4 Coaches, #14 KenPom

Last 5: 4-1 (W: Butler, Creighton, Seton Hall, Georgetown // L: Villanova)

Adjusted Efficiency Numbers: 121.8 (Off., 7th) // 100.3 (Def., 68th)

Leading Scorer: Trevon Bluiett (19.2 PPG)

Leading Assist Man: Quentin Goodin (5.1 APG)

Leading Rebounder: Trevon Bluiett (5.6 RPG)


Wednesday night is the last hurrah for the seniors of the Xavier Musketeers in Cincinnati. The four scholarship seniors — Sean O’Mara, Kerem Kanter, J.P. Macura and the incomparable Trevon Bluiett will play their final game inside the hallowed halls of the Cintas Center. It has been one hell of a ride for O’Mara, Macura and Bluiett, who have participated in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. They’ve won at least one game in the last three years, with two berths in the Sweet 16 and last year’s memorable Elite Eight run. A spot in this year’s is a certified lock, and it could come with the program’s first-ever No. 1 seed. Needless to say, this group has accomplished so much, but a victory Wednesday could go towards something even more.

Yes, it’s true: Xavier is two wins away (or one win and a Villanova Wildcats loss) from being Big East Champions. The program has won the Midwestern City Conference, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now better known as the Horizon League) and the Atlantic 10. But not the Big East yet. Their closest bid came in 2016, when they fell just two games shy of toppling ‘Nova from the top of the charts. But despite losing both games to the Wildcats this year, their three losses in conference play hold an advantage over their adversary’s four. Wouldn’t it be something for this program, that has progressively stepped further and further up the ladder over the years, to win the Big East in their fifth year in the conference?

Yeah, all that’s fine and dandy. But we’re sure that the Providence Friars want to play spoiler. The Friars, at 9-7 in Big East play, are trying to maneuver their way out of the logjam in the middle of the conference standings. There’s a three-way tie in the middle and, what do you know? The Seton Hall Pirates and Butler Bulldogs, also at 9-7, BOTH play on Wednesday night, too. By the end of the night, the Friars could join the Creighton Bluejays at 10-7. Or... they could fall to 9-8, and be stuck in the middle.

The Friars are still hungry for history of their own. They’ve never made the NCAA Tournament five years in a row. A victory Wednesday would be extremely helpful towards achieving that cost. They are pretty firmly on the bubble right now, even though they did pick up a big win against Villanova two weeks ago. Losses to Butler and Seton Hall dinged them a bit, but they rebounded with an important victory against the Georgetown Hoyas over the weekend. Their season finale against St. John’s could only hurt their chances, so this perhaps applies a bit of pressure on them to try and spoil Senior Night in Cincy on Wednesday.

Time will tell to see what happens in this Wednesday night Big East showdown. But between Senior Night, a Big East regular season title, and playing spoilers, this could be quite the encounter.