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Providence, DePaul meet up to close out regular season

Who will prevail in this Big East season finale between the Friars and Blue Demons?

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

The DePaul Blue Demons (15-15, 3-14 Big East) and Providence Friars (18-12, 11-6) close out their 2019-20 regular seasons with a Saturday evening matchup at “The Dunk”. This is a rematch of Providence’s 66-65 victory in Chicago on Jan. 4. This will be the 44th meeting between these two schools, with PC leading the all-time series 31-12.

Time & Place: March 7, 2020, 6:30 PM Eastern, Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, Rhode Island

TV: FS1 (Scott Graham & Vin Parise)

Radio: Providence: WPRO 99.7 FM/630 AM (John Rooke & Joe Hassett); DePaul: WSCR 670 AM (Zach Zaidman & Dave Corzine)

Streaming: FOX Sports Go

Team Ratings (Points Scored/Allowed per 100 possessions) (via Providence: 101.3/95.4 (183rd/82nd); DePaul: 98.3/97.3 (252nd/128th)

The Friars are on fire, entering Saturday’s tilt on a five-game winning streak. Another victory would help them mirror the end of the 2016-17 season, when they also closed out that campaign on a six-game winning streak. A win would also give them 12 wins in the Big East, which would be the most in a season in school history.

Providence will be honoring five seniors on Saturday night: Luwane Pipkins, Emmitt Holt, Maliek White, Kalif Young, and Alpha Diallo. Pipkins and Diallo, specifically, have been the key to PC’s recent surge.

The streak has coincided with Pipkins’ return to the starting lineup after six games coming off the bench. He has averaged 20.6 points per game over the last five games. Diallo has followed him up with 18.0 points per game, including 35 points in their Feb. 15 win against the Seton Hall Pirates.

Providence has also been incredible from the 3-point line. The Friars have shot 40.2 percent from beyond the arc over the last five games. Conversely, opponents have shot 28.3 percent from beyond the arc over the same span.

DePaul, meanwhile, will come to New England hoping to finish the regular season above .500 for the second consecutive campaign. Their last positive season before 2018-19 (19-17) was a 20-14 finish back in 2006-07.

A win Saturday would also be DePaul’s fourth Big East victory this year. That would tie the second-most conference wins the program has had during Dave Leitao’s second tenure. They also went 4-14 in-conference in 2017-18.

Junior forward Paul Reed’s availability is still up the air. He has missed the last two games with a hip pointer. Unsurprisingly, it has been tough sledding for the Blue Demons without such an important player. DePaul has shot a brutal 31.8 percent from the field in Reed’s absence. That’s 39.5 percent from inside the arc and 14.7 percent beyond it.

DePaul’s 31-for-35 (88.6 percent) performance from the line was the key to their Mar. 3 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles on Tuesday. However, there is no guarantee the whistles will be that generous on Saturday. For instance, the Blue Demons only scored 42 points in their Feb. 29 loss at the Butler Bulldogs when they attempted just eight free throws. If DePaul wants to keep up with the Friars, they must find their offensive rhythm, rather or not Paul Reed plays.