Villanova looks to snap five-game losing streak as Providence comes to South Philly | Villanova vs. Providence Preview
Written by David Szczepanski on February 4, 2024
For the first time this season, Villanova and Providence meet for a Big East matchup tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wildcats enter tonight’s game on a five-game losing streak, including a five-point loss to #9 Marquette on Tuesday. They are 11-10 overall and 4-6 in Big East play. Villanova currently sits in ninth place in the Big East with only Georgetown and DePaul behind them in the standings. With just 10 games left to play, the Wildcats must begin a winning streak tonight to get into the NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Their opponent, Providence, is 14-7 overall and 5-5 in conference play. The Friars finished the month of January with a 3-5 record. However, they won three of their last four games to get back into the Big East conversation. Providence suffered a loss in their most recent game to #1 UConn, 74-65, in Connecticut, but the Friars battled on the road in a tough environment.
Villanova leads the all-time series against Providence, 70-43. But the Wildcats have not defeated the Friars since March 2022. They were swept by Providence in the two meetings last season.
Friars’ New Head Coach
This is Providence’s first season without Ed Cooley as their head coach since 2011. Cooley accepted a job at Georgetown in the offseason. The Friars are now coached by Kim English, who coached at George Mason from 2021-2023 and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2012. Under English, Providence has excelled defensively. The Friars are averaging more than six steals and five blocks per game.
As an offense, Providence has been fairly average without their star, Bryce Hopkins. Hopkins sustained a season ending ACL injury in January. In his absence, Devin Carter, a junior from Miami, and Josh Oduro, a senior transfer from George Mason, have stepped up. As a team, Providence averages almost 74 points per game. They shoot 46% from the field, but they are average from behind the arc with a 32% success rate. The Friars are a terrible free throw shooting team with a 68.9% conversion rate from the charity stripe.
The Friars have a slight rebounding advantage over Villanova with about 37 rebounds per contest. In addition to the poor free throw shooting, Providence also has trouble at taking care of the basketball. They average 13 turnovers per game.
Providence Players to Watch
G Devin Carter (Junior, Miami, FL): 18.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 48% FG%, 36% 3P%, scored 49 combined points in his last two games
F Josh Oduro (Senior, Gainesville, VA): 15 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 56.5% FG%, scored 20 points against the Huskies
Villanova Preview + Keys to a Wildcats’ Win
Villanova, who averages 73.2 points per game, must find a way to limit one of Carter and Oduro. In my opinion, this is going to be a low-scoring defensive battle in South Philly. Providence is a great defensive team, but Villanova can also play well defensively like against UConn a couple of weeks ago. To find offense, Eric Dixon, who is Villanova’s average leading scorer with 16 points per game, should have chances in the paint, especially without Hopkins. Dixon scored 24 points in the loss to the Golden Eagles. Villanova’s TJ Bamba is averaging almost 15 points per game in his last seven contests. Bamba and Mark Armstrong carried Villanova back into the game at the end of the first half against Marquette, and Villanova needs their contributions again tonight.
The Wildcats must also get off to a good start against Providence. With another loud crowd expected at the Wells Fargo Center, Villanova cannot let that energy go to waste with another poor start. They allowed Marquette to get a 20-point lead, and although the Wildcats battled back, they lost a lot of energy from having to just get back into the game in the first half. Providence and Villanova are fairly similar in a lot of categories, but the Wildcats have a much better success rate at the free throw line. Villanova is shooting 82.1% from the charity stripe for the season. They should get to the paint and try to pick up some fouls, especially early in the game.
WXVU Live Coverage
Villanova should be favored to win this game, especially at home, but another close defensive battle should be expected in South Philly. Providence is 13-1 when scoring 71 or more points, so the Wildcats must take care of business defensively. The Wildcats will try to close this five-game losing streak chapter of the book with a win tonight. WXVU will have live coverage from the Wells Fargo Center beginning at 5:30pm with the pregame show. Tipoff is scheduled for 6pm.