Providence (15-16) vs. Seton Hall (19-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 6, 7:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: PC 11-6, SHU 13-3. Away Record: PC 4-8, SHU 4-7. Neutral Record: PC 0-2, SHU 2-1. Conference Record: PC 4-14, SHU 8-10. Series Record: Providence leads, 45-44.
GAME NOTES: The 10th-seeded Seton Hall Pirates are desperate for a win tonight as they square off with the No. 15-seeded Providence Friars in the first round of the 2012 Big East Conference Tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The seventh-seeded Louisville Cardinals will be awaiting the winner of this contest in the second round. Whichever team advances will face Rick Pitino's squad on Wednesday night.
Seton Hall seemed like it was headed in the right direction after its big 73-55 upset of the nationally ranked Georgetown Hoyas on Feb. 21. However, its good standing was short-lived as it lost back-to-back games to Rutgers and DePaul to close out the regular season. Coach Kevin Willard will need to string together a few wins in the Big East Tournament to give his team and chance of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Pirates' season-ending two-game losing slide left them with a 19-11 overall record and an 8-10 mark in Big East play.
One of SHU's eight wins in conference action came over Providence on Jan. 7, in a contest the Pirates earned a 66-57 decision at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Although the Friars finished the year 15-16 overall and with just a 4-14 record in league action, they have appeared to started gelling at the perfect time. Coach Ed Cooley guided his team to wins over DePaul and Connecticut before closely losing to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the road in its season finale. Providence is a very capable team offensively as it averages 69.5 ppg.
The Friars struggle on the defensive end, which will hurt them in this one as they have to defend the Pirates' Herb Pope, Jordan Theodore, and Fuquan Edwin. Pope was a workhorse for SHU all season as he averaged 15.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Theodore had a very strong senior season as he led the team in scoring and finished second in the Big East in assists. Edwin chipped in 12.6 ppg and also swiped a nation-high 3.1 steals per game.
The Pirates allowed Rutgers and DePaul to drain 10 shots from beyond the arc in each of their final two games of the season. This could be problematic against the guard-oriented Friars squad. Providence has one of the best point guards in the nation in Vincent Council. The junior floor general led the team in scoring with 16.2 ppg and the conference in distributing with 7.5 assists per game. Council had 10 or more assists in each of his last three games, partially due to the strong performances by Bryce Cotton and LaDontae Henton.
Cotton will be the x-factor in this one. The sophomore guard was a huge key to PC's two wins to end February as he averaged 20.5 ppg while draining 7-of-13 from three-point range in those contests. Cotton finished the season by going 2-of-11 from the floor against Notre Dame. Council is a very talented point guard and he will find his teammates for open looks, but they will need to hit the big shots down the stretch for the Friars to end the Pirates' NCAA Tournament dreams. Pope will need to take over the paint against the freshman Henton to drive Seton Hall into the second round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seton Hall 73, Providence 67
03/06 10:33:35 ET