In order for the Providence Friars to be on the right side of the bubble on Selection Sunday tonight’s tilt in New Jersey against the Seton Hall Pirates falls in the must-win category.
The last time these two faced off was the opening game of Big East play where the Pirates outlasted the Friars in double overtime to win 81-80. Brian Oliver led the way for Seton Hall with 18 points and also chipped in 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. At the time this seemed like a huge win for Kevin Willard’s squad and a tough loss for Ed Cooley’s, but two months later it’s a completely different story.
Providence (18-10, 8-7) overcame a devastating loss to Villanova in the Dunkin Donuts Center and scraped out a win on the road at Butler. The Friars are continuing to be led by ironman Bryce Cotton, who continues to play like a man possessed. He has scored at least 20 points in four straight contests and I would expect much of the same tonight. In any other year Cotton would probably be a runaway Big East Player of the Year, but this guy named McBuckets has something to say about that.
Meanwhile, Seton Hall (14-14, 5-10) is in desperate need for a good win to help them build towards the future. Losers of 5 of 6, they went to Omaha without Sterling Gibbs and gave the Creighton all they could handle, but still came away empty losing 72-71. Then they got Gibbs back and lost to DePaul two days later. Talk about a letdown.
So now these two teams faceoff and they are desperate for two different reasons. The Pirates fan base just wants to see something that can get them excited going forward, whereas the Friars faithful is yearning for the NCAA Tournament. The middle of the Big East has proved to be extremely treacherous for every team, and this seems to be another one of those games.
Prediction: Providence 75, Seton Hall 71
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