Wednesday, January 07, 2009


January 7, 2009

Providence will put their 2-0 Big East record on the line when they travel to Cincinnati for a conference match-up tonight. The Bearcats found Big East play not to their liking as they were blown out, 84-50, in their conference opener on Sunday afternoon.

Here are some preview articles and game stories found on the internet this morning about this match-up:

UC Must Rebound From Back-to-Back Shellackings (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Davis Finds Big East’s a Beast (DesMoinesRegister.com)
Capsule Preview: PC at Cincy (Providence Journal)
Friars Claim No Expectations Means no Pressure (Providence Journal)

Providence has done what they needed in opening conference play with wins over St. John’s (75-54) and DePaul (62-54) at home. Now the Friars hit the road to battle Cincinnati in a very interesting game as each team looks to gain footing in the middle of the conference. PC and UC meet twice in 12 days with the Friars playing Marquette and Georgetown in between while the Bearcats will look to gain some momentum as they have UConn up next, then DePaul and Rutgers before the PC rematch.

Prior to tonight’s game, Providence has played one true road game, an 81-76 loss at Boston College. Defense and rebounding are key components to winning on the road in a conference such as the Big East and those traits have never been very consistent with the Friars. Keno Davis is trying to change that, but he is dealing with the hand that is dealt. The Keno Davis offense is centered around a point guard who can distribute to open shooters spreading the floor. PC has Sharaud Curry back at point guard and rounding back into his past form each and every game. Wing snipers such as Jeff Xavier and Brian McKenzie offer excellent three-point shooting potential, although the long-range shooting of the Friars has been missing often away from home. Weyinmi Efejuku is an athletic guard that loves to attack the rim and is also capable of connecting from deep. Where the Friars success will ultimately be decided will be how hard the frontcourt comes to play against a deeper group of UC bigs.

The Bearcats opened up Big East play by being pasted by Marquette, 84-50, on the road as the Golden Eagles lit them up from the perimeter. In their game prior to that, UC lost 60-45 on the road to Memphis, so their offensive struggles are evident. In the loss to MU, Deonta Vaughn was held scoreless for the first time in his three-year UC career. The Bearcats will not win in this league without Vaughn driving their offensive production.

The Bearcats have improved their frontcourt depth with Yancy Gates, Steven Toyloy and Mike Williams being added to the rotation this season along with returning sophomore Anthony McClain. Still, finding a consistent supplement offensively to Vaughn is what UC needs the most and it continues to be lacking this season once again.

College basketball betting odds show UC is a 3 ½-point home favorite against the Friars. After a couple rough outings, we look for the UC defensive pressure to be picked up a notch and for their bigger frontcourt to control the paint against PC. Both teams are likely to be rather evenly matched, but the added motivation and attention to get back to defense and rebounding for Mick Cronin’s squad in this game should be the difference.

NBE Blogger Prediction:

Cincinnati 66
Providence 61



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