On Friday afternoon in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the Greensboro Coliseum, The Providence Friars will open their NCAA Tournament play against the #6-seeded Kentucky Wildcats. Providence was defeated by UConn 73-66 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament and has lost three straight. Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt 80-73 in the SEC tournament quarterfinals but finished up the regular season, winning five out of seven matches.
Providence was a solid rebounding team earlier in the season.
Rebounding has not been the team’s friend lately; they have been out-rebounded in their last four games and the lack of rebounding has led to a cold streak as of late.
Kentucky ranks fourth in the country for rebounding margin.
With impressive offensive boards and stellar defensive efforts, Providence cannot afford to slip up here. They must rebound the ball to win this game.
Recently, the Wildcat defense hasn’t been particularly strong and their offense has played well, but outside shooting could be a concern in this game. As long as their inside game remains solid – which should be fine if 40% of shots are made – everything else will fall into place.
The Friars boast a strong senior presence, are evenly balanced (five players average ten points or more), and always manage to come out on top in games…usually.
They’ve had a difficult stretch lately, losing four of their last five games, but they remain well-prepared despite UConn’s upset victory over them in the Big East Tournament.
They’re aggressive, they get after it on the boards, and they make plenty of free throws. They possess the potential to keep this close and then hit some late free throws for a victory.
In six of the last seven games, Kentucky has made 12 or more free throws, the Friars will need to keep the Cats off the line.
These two teams have not played this season.
Both teams will have moments when nothing seems to click, and both may also experience instances when it appears the tide has completely turned.
Kentucky, however, will have more success on the boards – Providence must win on the glass to pull this off – and be more accurate from three.
Landing this plane won’t be smooth sailing. Providence may have its chances late, but UK will get the rebounds necessary to come out unscathed.
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