Charlotte (21-11) at Providence (17-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 20, 7:15 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dunkin Donuts Center (12,400) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: ESPN3.com. NIT Record: Charlotte 4-6, Providence 30-19. Series Record: Providence leads, 1-0.
GAMES NOTES: Providence, a team that is no stranger to the National Invitational Tournament, will host the Charlotte 49ers in the first round of the 2013 rendition at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Wednesday.
Providence earned NIT titles in 1961 and 1963 and its 19 appearances are tied for fourth most all-time. So clearly the Friars will not be in uncharted territory come Wednesday. 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 the Friars were dropped, 61-44, in the second round of the Big East Tournament against Cincinnati.
After one of the most bizarre endings in recent memory gave Charlotte a 68-63 win over Richmond in the first round of the Atlantic-10 Tournament, the 49ers bowed to eventual champion Saint Louis in the next round. The 49ers are still a solid 21-11 coming into this contest as they get set for their seventh appearance in the NIT. Their last postseason bid was also to the NIT when they participated in the 2008 event.
During the 2008-09 season these teams met for the first and only time. Providence earned the win in that showdown, 67-62. The winner of this contest will face Robert Morris in the next round.
Charlotte was another victim to the defensively stout Billikens in the A-10 Tournament. The 49ers managed to shoot at just a 38.8 percent rate while committing 20 turnovers in the losing effort. Chris Braswell had a strong game in the contest (20 points, 10 rebounds) but it proved inconsequential.
Though they are 10 games above .500, the 49ers fought to just about even on the scoreboard this season. They own a razor thin +0.2 scoring margin on the season by netting 67.6 points per game on 44.1 percent shooting. Where the 49ers have dominated is on the boards as they are the best rebounding team in the A-10 (37.6 pg). Braswell (11.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) is the leading offensive option for the 49ers who lost an important piece in DeMario Mayfield (11.7 ppg) when he was dismissed from the team earlier in the campaign. The 49ers may be even weaker as Pierria Henry (10.4 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.6 spg) is listed as questionable after he was taken to the hospital after suffering a chest injury against Saint Louis.
Providence is also coming off a rather disappointing offensive effort as it managed to shoot at just a 28.1 percent rate from the field in the loss to Cincinnati last week. The Friars were especially ineffective from beyond the arc where they made good on just 1-of-16 attempts.
Despite being one of the teams at the bottom half of the Big East in terms of offensive success this year, the Friars still had some talented players on the floor. Big East leading scorer Bryce Cotton (19.4 ppg) paces the team, although he is a bit of a one-dimensional scorer with his reliance on shots from long range. Vincent Council (9.6 ppg, 6.9 apg) missed a chunk of the season but came on strong at the point as one of the better passers in the Big East. In the frontcourt Kadeem Batts (15.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and LaDontate Henton (13.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg) are strong scorers and rebounders.
Normally Providence's strength on the glass is something that keeps it competitive but it will have a tougher time doing so against Charlotte. However if Cotton can find his stroke once again and Council can keep everyone involved the Friars should advance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 70, Charlotte 65
03/20 10:31:11 ET