Of the ten teams in the Big East this season, the Providence Friars have been perhaps the most confusing.
After taking multiple poor losses in the nonconference slate, Providence came into Big East play at 7-6 with their NCAA Tournament hopes looking like they would be relying on the autobid. Then, it looked like Providence turned things around when they went 4-1 to open conference play. But a quick three-game losing streaking brought them back down to 4-4. However, Providence has gone 4-2 since that skid to improve to 8-6 in Big East play with wins over Marquette, Seton Hall, Butler, and Creighton, all of whom look like they’ll be in the NCAA Tournament.
So, can the Friars keep up their strong play and keep climbing the ranks of the conference Saturday as they host the Marquette Golden Eagles?
Alpha Diallo has been the key part of Providence’s success this season, as the senior forward leads the Friars in both points per game (14.1) and rebounds per game (8.9). Diallo is also two games removed from a career-high 35 point outburst against Seton Hall, and has seemingly got better as the season has gone on. In Providence’s win over Marquette in Milwaukee, he had just 12 points, but made his presence felt on the glass with 11 rebounds, and logged 43 minutes in the overtime affair.
For Marquette, they’re likely safely in the NCAA Tournament at this point barring something unforeseen. Even with their two game losing streak to Villanova and Creighton, the Golden Eagles are 17-8 and still have DePaul and St. John’s on the schedule. In the first meeting against Providence, Markus Howard had 39 points. The Dunkin’ Donuts Center was also the site of Howard’s first career 50 point game, when he tied a then-Big East record with 52 points on January 3, 2018.
It should be a very competitive game, as Providence’s defense has been strong in conference play and might be able to slow down Marquette’s offense, but whenever you have a National Player of the Year candidate like Howard, your offense is always potentially potent.
How to watch or stream
Time: Noon ET
Streaming: FOX Sports Go