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Friars at Hoyas: Could the bubble burst?

Monday, February 10, 2014

 

Game time:  7:00 pm

Location: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Television: Fox Sports 1

Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM

The last time Providence and Georgetown met the Friars scored a badly needed victory that ended a three game losing skid and sent them on their way to a five game winning streak. At the conclusion of the streak Providence had gone from a team reeling (having lost three straight prior to the Hoyas' visit to the Dunk) to a 15-5 club with a 5-2 conference record that was well positioned for an NCAA Tournament berth as February approached.

The loss sent Georgetown in the opposite direction - losing of five of their next six games to close out January.

Since the five game winning streak, PC has fallen in three of their last four, most recently a 59-53 road defeat at Xavier, while the Hoyas have won their last three games, including a 64-60 victory over then #7 Michigan State on February 1.

Providence (16-8, 6-5) and Georgetown (14-9, 5-6) now find themselves in a cluster in the middle of the Big East, with four teams separated by just a game in the conference standings and the third place team (Xavier) just two games ahead of seventh place Seton Hall.

If the Friars are to avoid a three game losing streak they'll have to win where they haven't had much luck since the formation of the Big East. Between games in Landover and in Washington D.C. Georgetown owns a 21-4 home record against Providence and hasn't lost at home to PC in nine seasons.

In Providence's 70-52 victory on Jan. 8, the Friars broke the game open in the second half in scoring 42 points on 59% shooting, while Georgetown shot just 39% for the game. Bryce Cotton was his usual steady self in that one (20 points and 7 assists), while Josh Fortune's 13 point, 9 rebound, 5 assist night was overshadowed by the breakout game of Kadeem Batts who finished with 21 points.

For Georgetown to salvage this season they'll have to do it behind a backcourt that is scoring nearly 50% of the team's points. Sophomore D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera has been particularly impressive of late, making 27 of 28 free throws during their current three game winning streak. He and senior guard Markel Starks both average 16.9 points per game on the season.

With seven games remaining, the Friars still find themselves on the bubble, but if they are to make the NCAA Tournament they'll have to start winning on the road. Four of their final seven games come away from home, while they'll welcome difficult foes in #6 Villanova and a Marquette team that has manhandled them in the past to Providence later this month.

A win on Monday night gives Providence a 7-5 conference mark with five days to prepare for a home game with DePaul on Saturday.

 

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