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Friars vs. Pirates: Friday night tournament test

Friday, March 14, 2014

 

Game time: 7:00 pm
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM

Next up for the Friars is a Big East semifinal matchup against the #8 seed Seton Hall Pirates on Friday at 7:00 pm.  PC is coming off a hard fought victory against the St. John's Red Storm on Thursday. The Pirates are coming off a dramatic last second victory against the no. 1 seed Villanova Wildcats also on Thursday. Seton Hall is looking to get into the NCAA tournament the hard way, by winning four games in four days to capture the Big East Championship. The Friars are looking for one more victory to ensure their NCAA tournament chances.

Previous Matchups

In the first game against the Pirates, Providence lost a heartbreaker in double overtime on New Year’s Eve at the Dunk 81-80. The key point in the game was when the Friars threw away an inbounds pass with 15 seconds left in the second overtime, after holding a three point lead. Bryce Cotton led the Friars in scoring with 25 points and Tyler Harris added 22. The Pirates had a balanced scoring attack with Sterling Gibbs, Brandon Mobley, Brian Oliver, and Patrik Auda all scoring in double figures.

PC got their revenge on February 28th when they defeated Seton Hall 74-69 in Newark at the Prudential Center. Cotton led the Friars scoring 17 of his 24 points in a 46 second half for the Friars. Kadeem Batts added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Keys to the Game

Josh Fortune has averaged 14 points a game over the last five games and really seems to have found his confidence. A confident Fortune scoring from the outside will make PC's task much easier against Seton Hall.

At 6'9 and 270 pounds, Gene Teague is the type of player that can give PC fits. On Thursday against Villanova he had 19 points (on 7-9 shooting) and 12 rebounds. It will be the task of Batts and Carson Desrosiers to keep him in check. In the second matchup against the Pirates, they were able to somewhat control him on the defensive end.

Fatigue may play a huge factor in this game. With basically a six-man rotation the Friars are not very well equipped to play games on back to back days. The only mitigating factor is that Seton Hall will be playing their third game in three days. The team with the freshest legs going down the stretch will probably win this one.

It was great that PC was able to defeat the Red Storm even though Cotton had what may have been his worst game of the season. The Friars can't afford to have Bryce have another bad game against the Pirates. A typical Cotton game (20 or more points, five or more assists) will be needed in order for PC to win.

Once again PC will have to stay out of foul trouble, particularly Batts and Desrosiers. Teague is the type of player for Seton Hall that can foul both players out very easily if they are not careful.

Providence will also need to control the boards. They should have an advantage as Seton Hall is not a good rebounding team (290th in the country). The Friars on the other hand are much better off the glass (90th in the country in rebounding) and actually had four players with double figure rebounds against St. John's.  If PC controls the boards they should be able to control the game.

What it Means

Quite simply this games means everything. If the Friars win they should be in the NCAA tournament. On the other hand if they lose all Friar fans are going to have a very anxious selection Sunday as PC will be firmly on the bubble.

Follow Craig on Twitter: @CraigL78
email Craig at Craig.Leighton@friarbasketball.com

 

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