Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BIG EAST GAME PREVIEW: Providence @ South Florida

February 28, 2007

Providence heads south to meet the South Florida Bulls on Wednesday night in a Big East Conference match-up. The Friars need to rebound from a tough home loss to Syracuse on Saturday that has put their NCAA Tournament chances in grave condition. Road wins to finish the conference schedule against South Florida and St. John's will not necessarily put them in any better position, but it will give them some hope as they head to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament next week.

At South Florida, they are winding down their second season in the Big East without hope for the post-season. The Bulls have already been eliminated from qualifying for the Big East Tournament and are wrapping up their season.

Here is the lone pregame article currently found on the internet:

Friars Need to be Driven in Last Two Road Tests (Providence Journal)

Providence is a 3.5-pt road favorite tonight as they look to earn their 8th conference win against the 3-11 (Big East) Bulls. Neither team is very deep, but the Friars have more talent. They are led by their excellent inside-out duo of Sharaud Curry and Herbert Hill. Curry, in Big East games, averaged 15.2 PPG which ranks 8th in the conference. Hill averages a league-best 18.9 PPG in conference action and is 2nd in the league averaging 9.6 rebounds and his 57.8% shooting percentage ranks 3rd in the Big East. Rugged sophomore forward Geoff McDermott is in the top 5 in both rebounding and assists in league play and sophomore guard Weyinmi Efejuku is among the top 30 scorers in league play with just over 12 PPG. So, the Friars definitely have some productive players.

South Florida has a big man in the middle themselves in Kentrell Gransberry who averages 15 PPG and a league-leading 10.6 rebounds in conference action. His girth against Hill's length and athletic ability will be a match-up to watch. The Friars like to push the tempo, so Gransberry will have to avoid picking up fouls trying to prevent Hill from beating him downt he floor for easy baskets. Gransberry is also aided by the presence of Chris Howard who is finally healhty and leading the Big East in assists (5.83/game) since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of action for his first year and a half as a Bull. Seniors Melvin Buckley (14.1 PPG) and McHugh Mattis (13.6 PPG) also ranks among the top 20 in scoring during Big East games and Mattis adds 7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks a contest as well.

Neither team expects to get much from the rest of their line-up, but the Friars are deeper with Brian McKenzie and Jonathan Kale having some good games of late. The Bulls still do not quite seem ready to put things together, but they are deeper than at anytime this season. Unfortunately, they just do not seem to be playing up to their level of talent. That could be because of all the players going in and out of their line-up, but they continue to be out of sync on most nights.

NBE Blogger Prediction: Providence 68 South Florida 62


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