Robert Morris (24-10) at Providence (18-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 25, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin Donuts Center (12,400) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: ESPN News. NIT Record: Robert Morris 1-1, Providence 31-19. Series Record: Providence leads, 2-0.
GAMES NOTES: Fresh of a huge upset in the first round, the Robert Morris Colonials will look to push past the Providence Friars in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
A court-storming was in order for Robert Morris last Tuesday after it knocked off last year's national champion Kentucky at the Sewall Center. The win, the first ever for Robert Morris in the NIT, helped the Colonials bounce back from a 69-60 disappointment against Mount Saint Mary's in the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Colonials won the regular-season title in the league and own a 24-10 overall mark after winning seven of its last eight games.
Providence had a bit less excitement in the first round as it earned a 75-66 win over Charlotte. Providence earned NIT titles in 1961 and 1963 and its 19 appearances are tied for fourth most all-time. The Friars were one of the hottest teams in the Big East during the last few weeks of the regular season as they took victories in seven of their last eight regular-season games. However, a slow start to the campaign has them at 18-14 overall entering Monday's contest.
Wins in the only meetings in 1982 and 1992 have Providence leading the all- time series between these squads, 2-0. The winner this time around will face Baylor in the quarterfinals.
With 42 seconds left on the clock a jumper from Kentucky's Archie Goodwin knotted the contest at 57-57. On the other end, Russell Johnson got a shot off close to the basket but was off the mark. Luckily for the Colonials, Mike McFadden ripped down an offensive rebound and was fouled on the putback attempt. McFadden calmly sank his free throws and seconds later was surrounded by fans.
Balance is the key on offense for the Colonials with four different players scoring in double figures. Leading the way most of the time is talented reserve Karvel Anderson (12.3 ppg). However, Anderson struggled against Kentucky, scoring just two points at the free-throw line, while going 0-of-5 from the floor. Lucky Jones (11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg) is the leading rebounder and filled in as the top offensive option against the Wildcats with a team-high 15 points. Velton Jones (10.8 ppg, 5.2 apg) runs the offense. Johnson (10.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is another solid option.
It was Providence's efforts in the second half that got it past Charlotte in the first round. The Friars shot at a 46.9 percent clip in the final 20 minutes to rally from a three-point halftime deficit. The Friars turned the ball over only five times in the contest and scored 11 points off of 12 49er miscues.
The Friars get a ton of production out of their starting five, led by the Big East's top scorer Bryce Cotton (19.6 ppg). The 6-foot-1 guard isn't a very versatile scorer, getting his points primarily with shots from long range. Against Charlotte he poured in 25 points and hit 4-of-8 shots from beyond the arc. Kadeem Batts (14.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and LaDontae Henton (13.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) mix it up in the frontcourt with an ability to pile up points and crash the boards, while Vincent Council (9.9 ppg, 6.9 apg) sees the court well as the team's primary distributor.
The Colonials are clearly not afraid to play anyone despite their small conference roots. However on the road they might have more trouble against the Friars who cut their teeth in the competitive Big East.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 68, Robert Morris 64
03/25 10:31:50 ET