#11 Providence Friars
#11 USC Trojans
Wednesday March 15th
Dayton, Ohio (UD Arena)
Before we get started with anything, let's just get this video out of the way...
I have mixed feelings going into this play-in game between PC and USC. One the one hand, the last NCAA game that we won was last year against USC on a last second layup from Rodney Bullock. On the other hand, the year before that, we were in the play-in game against Dayton and played horrendously on our way to a loss. Granted, that game was basically a home game for Dayton, but it still brings up some sour memories.
Looking at both PC and USC, both teams look very different than they did the last time they played. Providence is without Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, while USC lost 2 starters and their 6th man from last year's squad. Their two resumes are kind of counter-balances to each other as USC excels at shooting the three and PC excels at defending the three. PC turns the opposing team over a lot and USC doesn't turn it over a lot. USC started the season strong and faded at the end, losing 4 of their last 6, while PC was able to turn things on at the end of the year, winning 6 of their last 7 games.
I've seen this game as a pick 'em to a point spread here and there. All in all, summing up that these two teams match up very well with one another, much like last year where the game came down to the final seconds and a 1-point difference.
The one thing about USC that concerns me a little bit is Benny Boatwright. Boatwright is USC's leading scorer with 14.6 points per game. He's a 6'10'' forward who can stretch the floor and make shots from the outside, netting 36.2% from three. He's also an incredible 92.6% free throw shooter on the season. The one things that Providence seems to struggle against are versatile big men who can shoot. Here's a look at some of the stat lines during Big East play to give you some reference:
Angel Delgado (Seton Hall): 12 points, 16 rebounds
Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown): 26 points*, 6 rebounds
Justin Patton (Creighton): 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks
Luke Fischer (Marquette): 13 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks
Angel Delgado (Seton Hall): 19 points, 15 rebounds
Nate Fowler (Butler): 19 points*, 3 rebounds
Rashid Gaston (Xavier): 19 points, 14 rebounds
Justin Patton (Creighton): 17 points, 6 rebounds
So that's something that has me a little concerned for tonight's play-in game.
Other than that specific fact, Rodney Bullock needs to be productive early. I know that he is able to turn things on in the second half but he's also very susceptible to getting down on himself if he starts off cold. We are going to need Bullock offensively if we're going to make any sort of run in the NCAA tournament. That's just the truth.
Kyron needs to limit turnovers, Bullock needs to keep his head up, and we need to take advantage of the free throw line. If USC has anyone get into foul trouble, then PC will be in good shape as the Trojans only play about 6 players.
I'm already getting pumped for tonight.
Some pics from the last year's game against USC to reminisce about before the tip tonight...which is obviously at 9:10 PM because the NCAA Committee continues to hate me and schedule every PC game after 9 PM, like a buncha jerks.