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The Biggest Stretch of Villanova Men’s Basketball in the last couple of years is here | Villanova vs. Providence Preview

Written by on March 2, 2024

The most important stretch of Villanova basketball commences this afternoon at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, Rhode Island. The Wildcats meet the Providence Friars for the second time this season. Villanova won the first matchup at the Wells Fargo Center on February 4th by a final score of 68-50. The Wildcats’ defense limited Providence to just 50 points and was the main key to Villanova’s win. With March Madness hopes for Villanova in the future, the Wildcats need to leap over Providence in the rankings with a win today.

Villanova defeated Providence, 68-50, at the Wells Fargo Center on February 4th.

All-Time Series

Villanova has dominated the all-time series against the Friars, 71-43. After losing both games last season, Villanova won the first contest of the season about a month ago. The Wildcats are 16-12 overall and 9-8 in Big East play. With a win against Providence this afternoon, Villanova would hold the tiebreaker over the Friars, despite a worse overall record.

Villanova’s Most Recent Game: vs. Georgetown

The Wildcats are coming off a 28-point victory over Georgetown on Tuesday night in the final home game at the Finn for the regular season. All five Villanova starters scored at least ten points. Eric Dixon led the way with 22 points on 7-11 shooting from the field. Villanova was without TJ Bamba and Jordan Longino against the Hoyas. Bamba was out with a facial fracture and Longino did not play due to a non-COVID illness. Bamba and Longino should be available against Providence, but Bamba’s status will be a game time decision.

Villanova converted 53% of their shots from the field against Georgetown. They made 13 of 27 (48%) three-point attempts. The Cats’ had 19 assists on Tuesday and won the rebounding battle by five. Despite missing two key players, Villanova’s offense was efficient and played one of their best games of the season. The Wildcats’ defense held the Hoyas to just 19 first half points. They forced 12 turnovers and limited Georgetown to a 27.5% success rate from the field.

Providence Preview

After an ugly loss against UConn, Villanova bounced back nicely against Georgetown in preparation for this three-game Quad 1 stretch that begins against Providence. Providence is 18-10 overall. They share the same Big East record as Villanova with nine wins and eight losses. The Friars won three of their last four games and finished the month of February with a 4-3 record.

Despite winning three of their last four games, Providence has not played all that well in those wins. They defeated St. John’s by just three points at home when the Red Storm was going through their toughest stretch of the season. The Friars beat last place, DePaul, by just 11 points, and they pulled away by four points against Xavier in Ohio. Yes, good teams find ways to win games, but their wins have not been very impressive since they defeated Creighton on February 7th. The Friars suffered a 22-point loss, 91-69, to #5 Marquette on the road on Wednesday.

Friars’ Offensive Stats

Providence has some key wins this season like the Creighton victory, but they also play some bad games, especially on offense. The Friars often depend on their defense to step up late and win them games. Since losing star Bryce Hopkins for the season in early January, the Friars’ offense has regressed. However, with the duo of Devin Carter and Josh Oduro, they still average almost 74 points per game. They convert 45% of their shots from the field and 33% from behind the arc. The Friars have excellent ball movement with 14 assists per game.

Providence’s Weaknesses

In terms of weaknesses, Providence is an average rebounding team with 36 rebounds per game. They average more than 12 turnovers on offense, and they knock down just 70% of their free throw attempts. Villanova has limited their turnovers to almost nine per game and is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country. The rebounding battle will be key as both teams are very similar and average/slightly above average in that category.

Providence’s Players to Watch

G Devin Carter (Junior, Miami, FL): 19.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, scored 17 points against Villanova on 2/4 and 18 points against Marquette on Wednesday

F Josh Oduro (Senior, Gainesville, VA): 16.3 ppg, 7 rpg, scored 18 points against Villanova

Villanova’s Keys to the Game + My Thoughts

Villanova’s Fantastic Defense in February

Villanova’s defense has been key along this winning stretch in February. The Wildcats are 15-3 when holding opponents below 70 points this season. They held Providence to just 50 points in the first matchup, and Villanova’s defense must step up again today. Providence’s defense has carried them this season and they play extremely well at home. If Villanova’s defense can bring some energy, the Wildcats will have a much better chance of winning.

Obviously, this is the biggest stretch of the season for Villanova. After a tough month of January, they needed a winning month of February to keep their March Madness hopes alive, and they did just that. Now that they are back in the conversation and trending towards making the tournament, the Cats’ must finish the job. With Providence directly in front of Villanova, a win today would go a long way in the rankings, especially a road Quad 1 win. Villanova is just 3-7 on the road this season, and their defense has struggled at times away from home, so this is not an easy task.

Keys to the Game

To win this game, Villanova must play good defense, get some quality bench scoring, and force turnovers. Villanova’s recipe to success in the first contest between these two rivals was stellar defense. It will not be easy to hold Providence to 50 points, especially in Rhode Island, but they still need to find ways to make Providence’s offense, especially Carter, uncomfortable by forcing contested shots. The Wildcats’ bench scored 28 points in the first game and held Providence’s bench scoreless. Brendan Hausen, who scored just two points in his last two games, was a huge factor in February that started with 11 points against Providence in the beginning of the month. If Bamba starts today, Villanova’s bench depth will be much deeper with Hakim Hart, Hausen, and hopefully Jordan Longino. The Wildcats play their best basketball against good teams when they have quality bench scoring and three-point potential with Hausen. Last but not least, Villanova is exceptional at limiting turnovers on offense, but they could gain a big advantage early in this game if they force turnovers. Villanova does not statistically have much success at forcing turnovers, but they did have success in the first game against Providence. Villanova’s defense grabbed ten steals and forced 13 total turnovers. Without Hopkins, Providence’s offense will struggle if Villanova can force turnovers and create some pressure on Carter and Oduro.

Overall, this game could go either way with both teams playing good basketball coming into the game. However, Villanova has not won a Quad 1 game since their Big East opener on the road at Creighton in December. Providence may deserve the advantage since they are the home team, but I like the way Villanova matches up against Providence, especially in the paint with Eric Dixon, who scored 22 points against Georgetown and is Villanova’s average leading scorer. Regardless, this game will be closer than the first contest, but I think Villanova sweeps Providence with a crucial win this afternoon.

Game Information

Today’s game begins at 12pm. It can be watched on FOX. After this game against Providence, Villanova plays Seton Hall on Wednesday at 6:30pm. WXVU’s live coverage from Newark, New Jersey begins at 6pm with the pregame show.