Friday, January 12, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ Louisville

January 13, 2007

One of the most interesting games of the day on Saturday pits Louisville and Providence at Freedom Hall. Louisville rebounded from their conference-opening loss at Notre Dame to run past South Florida in the 2nd half by going small for an 81-55 win. Providence was the talk of the conference in the first week by opening conference play with a pair of home wins over Marquette and Seton Hall.

One big key for Providence is the return of Sharaud Curry from a suspension for violation of team rules. Curry leads PC in scoring and teams with Geoff McDermott and Herbert Hill to provide the Friars with top-line production from a 'big three' trio. However, that might not be the reason the Friars are off to such a good start, to me it is the improved production from Weyinmi Efejuku that gives the Friar atatck balance and when Curry was out, freshman Dwain Williams filled in adequately giving him more experience and confident to be a productive member off the bench.

Things have not gone very smoothly for Louisville this season. Injuries again have caused the Cardinals to be very inconsistent and they were without Andre McGee and Juan Palacios in their win over South Florida. McGee may be done for the season, but Palacios will hopefully suit up and play on Saturday. Also, the distraction that is Derrick Caracter continues as he did not even accompany the team to South Florida, so his availability is unknown and another talented freshman, Earl Clark, didn't see the floor in the blowout. Louisville looked their best with a small line-up of Terrence Williams, Brandon Jenkins, Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith with David Padgett in the middle. That is going to be a tough go against Providence with their strong frontcourt. The return of Palacios will definitely help the UL cause and a home crowd supporting them will give them a little extra adrenaline.

I am always leary of a team playing their first conference road game, so I am treading a little cautiously on Providence in this one. I think they are going to start slow, but crank things up in the second half, but it might be a little toolate as the added confidence of a good start helps Louisville in this one and they make the right plays down the stretch (considering that Palacios is playing).

NBE Blogger Prediction: Louisville 75 Providence 73


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