The Friars and Wildcats are set to meet for a Saturday afternoon tilt in the early goings of conference play. Both teams are 10-4, but don’t have identical starts to conference play. Providence dropped their opener to the Creighton Bluejays while the Wildcats rallied back to defeat the DePaul Blue Demons. It’s an important game for both teams, as Providence, of course, doesn’t want to start 0-2, while Villanova would behoove themselves to get out to a 2-0 start.
Point production wasn’t why Providence lost to Creighton. The Friars got 68 points and had four players in double figures. Their defense lacked quite a bit though as they allowed Creighton to hit 13 3-pointers on the night afternoon back on New Year’s Eve. Creighton also really helped their cause by going 16-for-19 from the FT line. That’s not Providence’s fault of course (especially since they had one more attempt than they did from the line) but it certainly made their situation worse off.
We know that Villanova likes to take 3-pointers at will, and they still do even though their 3-point FG% is more average than good. So they will have to hope that they aren’t susceptible to another barrage from beyond the arc.
Villanova will certainly look for better execution after falling behind by as much as 14 points to DePaul earlier in the week. ‘Nova did of course rally back thanks to a surge in the late portion of the first half and for much of the second half as well. But Providence definitely has more talent than DePaul. So they cannot afford to have a lackluster start.
Especially since they won’t have the energy of the Finneran Pavilion in their back pocket this time. On Saturday, the game is taking place in Friartown, and PC’s crowd typically brings a tonnage of energy with them. ‘Nova has had no problems combating hostile environments before but make no mistake, it will likely be pretty energetic at The Dunk on Saturday.
In their loss to Creighton, Providence got just six points out of Isaiah Jackson and Nate Watson. The struggles for Watson continued on, as he’s gotten single digits in his last three games, including the four he had on NYE. Jackson, meanwhile, has been a little up and down. After four straight outings of double figures from November 24-December 4, he’s had three single digit games and two double figure outputs in his last five, alternating back and forth. The good news for Providence? If that trend continues, he’s expected to have an outburst against ‘Nova after putting up just two against Creighton.
It won’t shock you that Villanova got a huge outing out of Eric Paschall in their win over DePaul. Paschall had 24 points, his fifth 20-point effort of the season and second in a row after dropping 21 on the UConn Huskies on December 22. Not since November 22 has Paschall hit under double digits and he’s still shooting the ball rather well, too. He went 6-for-13 against the Blue Demons and will be the Wildcats’ primary threat on Saturday afternoon against the Friars.
Villanova has owned this series since the conference went into reformation. Providence has only tagged them with two losses since the 2013-14 season, the last coming last season on February 14. This will be a very fascinating matchup, and I think there’s a good chance it comes down to the last few possessions.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: FOX (Check local listings)
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go (Where available)