How to Watch:
Date: Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022
Time: 7:00pm EST
Venue: Dunkin’ Donuts Center - Providence, RI
TV: CBSSN (Andrew Catalon & Steve Lappas)
Line: Providence -1.5
The Providence Friars (22-3, 12-2) will play host to the Xavier Musketeers (17-9, 7-8) Wednesday night in a highly anticipated Big East rematch.
The first meeting between these teams ended in dramatic fashion. A defensive stand turned into a transition three-pointer by Jared Bynum in the final seconds, and the Friars left the Cintas Center with a huge win over a ranked opponent.
The Musketeers are no longer ranked, and they barely received votes this week. That will happen when you lose four-of-five, including a home loss to DePaul. Travis Steele appears to have his team safely in the field for the first time in his tenure, but we’ve written those words before. Xavier lost back-to-back games in the final week of the season two years ago and dropped three-of-four to finish last year’s campaign without an NCAA tournament berth. They lost at Providence in both of those late-season collapses.
A loss at the Dunk wouldn’t sink the Musketeers, but a win would be the crowning jewel on the resume. It would also give Steele and his players a little revenge. Xavier will enter Providence highly motivated.
Thanks to a little help from their rival next door, Providence has an opportunity to sew up a Big East regular season title before facing Villanova again next week. If the Friars can handle Xavier, they’ll be playing for the first regular season championship in school history Saturday night against Creighton. Defeating Xavier will be no small feat; the Musketeers have an 11-10 record against Providence and have never been swept by Rhode Island’s finest since joining the Big East.
Ed Cooley may be without his team’s leading scorer from the first meeting. Al Durham, battling a sports hernia, was held out of Providence’s OT win over Butler on Sunday. Durham scored 22 at Xavier and led the Friars in assists, including the pass to Bynum on the game’s winning basket.
As one guard goes out, another returns. A.J. Reeves has returned from the pinky injury that held him out for nearly a month. Reeves has knocked down two threes in each of his last two games and seems to be finding his stride for Providence.
The Musketeers may also be down a player in the back court. Nate Johnson was a game-time decision on Saturday at UConn and missed his second game in a row. Johnson was held scoreless against Providence.
Like Johnson, Providence’s Nate Watson was held without a point in the first matchup between Providence and Xavier. It was Watson’s first scoreless game since his freshman year. The Muskeers owned the paint, outscoring Providence 38-26 down low. Jack Nunge was a handful for Providence defense all night. Xavier’s path to victory lies in holding an advantage like that again.