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Providence Friars Game Preview/Open Thread

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

The Essentials

Date: Thursday, 11/16/17

Tip-Off Time: 6:30pm PST (coverage starts at 6:00pm)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KOMO 1000

Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Betting Line: Providence -9, O/U 149.5

Providence 2017-18 Statistics:

Record: 1-1

Points For per Game: 79 ppg (104th)

Points Against per Game: 70.5 ppg (136th)

Strength of Schedule: 169th

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.8 (36th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 93.5 (29th)

Note: The efficiency numbers are weighted with preseason expectations. They’re a better way to judge offense and defense than raw point totals right now (and always) given the small sample sizes.

Providence Key Players:

C- Nate Watson, Fr. 6’10, 260: 9.5ppg, 4.5rpg, 0.5bpg, 72.7% FG, 50% FT

Watson will likely split duties at Center with 6’9 sophomore Kalif Young. He was a 4-star recruit and a fringe top-100 guy in this recruiting class. He’s gotten off to a strong start scoring the ball although he’s struggled with turnovers through the first 2 games of his college career.

F- Rodney Bullock, Sr. 6’8, 225: 8.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 0.5apg, 42.9% FG, 50% FT, 50% 3pt

Bullock averaged 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season for Providence and was a pre-season All Big East 2nd team selection this year. He’s not a fantastic shooter but he’s good enough to be a credible threat as a stretch 4. Expect Bullock vs. Dickerson to be one heck of a battle.

F- Jalen Lindsay, Sr. 6’7, 227: 7.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 2.0apg, 33.3% FG, 50% FT, 40% 3pt

Lindsay missed the Friars’ first game due to a knee injury but came back with a solid return effort in their loss to Minnesota on Monday night. He shot a scorching 46% from beyond the arc last season as a double digit scorer and will be a huge mismatch for the Huskies.

G- Makai Ashton-Langford, Fr. 6’3, 185: 7.0ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.0apg, 41.7% FG, 40.0% FT

The combo guard out of New Hampshire was a top-50 recruit and will see time at both guard spots off the bench. His game is getting to the rim rather than shooting so hopefully the Washington zone can keep him from drawing fouls which is his biggest strength.

G- Kyron Cartwright, Sr. 5’11, 185: 11.0ppg, 3.5rpg, 9.5apg, 38.9% FG, 83.3% FT, 60% 3pt

Cartwright is Providence’s leader and likely best overall player. He averaged nearly 7 assists last season and was named Pre-season All Big East 2nd team this year. Not only is he one of the best passers in the country but he also is a complete pest on defense and will give David Crisp problems all night.

The Outlook

The win over Belmont was a solid start for Coach Hopkins but this game against Providence will be a real step up in competition. The Friars are ranked 31st by Kenpom and should be a contender to finish 2nd in the Big East behind Villanova.

Providence may not have a 5 star NBA prospect but they are a veteran team that has extraordinary depth. They lost the play-in game against USC as a #11 seed in the NCAA tournament but return almost their entire team. 6’7 Emmitt Holt was 2nd on the team in scoring in 2016/17 and will miss this game due to injury but every other major contributor returns. Kenpom lists them as 22nd in the country in minutes continuity which is just ahead of UW at 27th.They supplemented that core with the additions of 4 star players Makai Ashton-Langford and Nate Watson who are stepping in to major roles right away.

Providence blew the doors off of Houston Baptist in their 1st game but lost at home by 12 to a good Minnesota in their second. So unlike Washington, the Friars won’t have to adjust to a sudden step up in athleticism and competition in this game. When on defense, Providence makes their opponents work to grind out shots. Since 2015, they’ve finished in the top 15% of the country in average possession length on defense. Through 2 games their strength has been limiting 3-point shots which was also the case last year and so less likely to be a result of small sample sizes.

The real question of sample size will be on offense. So far Providence is 20th in the country in shortest possession length with the ball so they’ve been a severe run and gun team. That plays at odds with past years so we’ll see if that’s how they want to act or just how things played out in the first two games.

This should be a great test for Washington. The only way that the Huskies have been able to score consistently through 2 games is to continually pound the ball inside and draw fouls. Seven of the 10 players in Providence’s rotation have averaged 5+ fouls per 40 minutes this season so there’s a chance that strategy could work again. However, if it doesn’t then the Huskies will struggle mightily. Providence has shot 44% on the year from deep but I don’t think that’s a sustainable total. If the Huskies can keep them closer to 30% then they have a chance to keep it close. But I think this will be a jump too soon to expect a competitive game.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 65, Providence Friars- 77

P.S: If the Huskies win this game then they will play the winner of Saint Louis/Virginia Tech at 4p Pacific on Friday. If they lose then they will play the loser of that matchup at 2p Pacific on Friday.

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