#1 Villanova Wildcats (30-2) vs. #4 Providence Friars (22-10)
When: Friday, March 13, 2015, at 7 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Coverage: Fox Sports 1
Results of Previous Meetings:
–Villanova won 74-68 at Providence on February 11
–Villanova won 89-61 at home on February 24
Key Players for Providence: #3 Kris Dunn (6-3, 205) So., G; #23 LaDontae Henton (6-6, 215) Sr., F; #25 Tyler Harris (6-9, 223) Jr., F
Scouting Report: There’s something about Providence and March that makes them a different team. After getting swept by the Red Storm this season, the Friars came and earned a one-sided victory to knock them out of the Big East Tournament. Their 74-57 win over St. John’s featured three different Providence double-doubles. The tandem of Kris Dunn and LaDontae Henton proved to be formidable once again. Dunn, who was named Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year and Co-Player of the Year, had an impressive 17 points and 11 assists. At times, Dunn has some issues with turning the ball over, but for the most part he is a great player. He is a guard that can do it all: score, rebound, and dish out dimes. He’s also great on defense, leading the Big East with 2.8 steals per game. Dunn prefers to drive to the basket, but he has also shown that he can take and make the three. Henton, who shares the Big East Defensive Player of the Year honor with Dunn, had a double-double of his own. The senior forward scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Henton is the top scorer in the conference, averaging 20.1 points per game this season. He is capable of scoring from anywhere and wants the ball in his hands. He answers the call when his team needs him. The third double-double came from freshman forward Bob Bentil. Bentil had one of the best games of his young career, chipping in 14 points and 13 rebounds. He is an under-the-radar type guy. With most defenses gearing up to stop Dunn and Henton, he often gets lost in the shuffle. He’s had a few big games before. Providence has yet to lose when he has a double-double. The other guy inside, Carson Desrosiers, will be a difference maker this time around. When Villanova blew out Providence on senior night, Desrosiers was out with an injury. Now that he is healthy, expect a closer game like the first time around. Desrosiers isn’t going to score that many points but at 7 feet tall, his size will make an opponent think twice about going inside. He averages the second most blocks per game in the Big East with 2.6. The paint is his domain and he prides himself over that. Lastly, watch out for Tyler Harris. Harris is Providence’s all important sixth man. He may come off the bench, but he actually plays starter-type minutes. He averages 10.4 points per game. Harris uses a balanced approach in order to score. He can drive his way inside, but he also has a three-point shot that teams will have to be mindful of.
Outlook: If you want to be the best around, there’s no better way to do it than to defeat the defending champions. The Friars showed how bad they wanted it. They simply outhustled the Red Storm in all facets of the game. Scoring, rebounding, defense, etc. Providence wasn’t going to get slapped around. Villanova also swept the regular season series between these two teams, does that mean Villanova will suffer the same fate? Not if the Wildcats play the way they did today and how they did on Senior Night. The key to beating Providence is to stop the one-two punch of Dunn and Henton. It’s one of the main reasons why Villanova was able to blow out Providence on Senior Night. With Desrosiers coming back, what does that mean? Villanova will not be able to abuse the paint like it did last time. JayVaughn Pinkston and Daniel Ochefu basically had a free pass inside. Pinkston and Ochefu combined for 22 points. A skilled defensive minded center like Desrosiers simply won’t let that happen. For Villanova to win, it’ll start on defense. It is crucial for them to take away two of Providence’s biggest weapons. Today, the Wildcats showed they can shut down a star player. However, can they shut down two of them? You know the old saying, “Defense wins championships.” It will start on defense and the rest will take care of itself from there.