Creighton vs Providence
When: 9:30 PM ET, Thursday, March 9, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special Preview for Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – In a conference featuring the defending national champion and seven 19-win-plus teams among its 10 members, no one is hotter than Providence, which brings a six-game win streak into the Big East tournament. The third-seeded Friars will try to pad their roll Thursday night when they take on sixth-seeded Creighton in the quarterfinals at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.
Following a Feb. 8 road loss at Seton Hall, Providence had dropped four of five and was languishing with a 4-8 Big East record. But the Friars have not lost since, including wins over Butler (71-65), Xavier (75-63) and Creighton (68-66), and bring much momentum to the Big Apple. “We’re playing well,” Providence coach Ed Cooley told the media following his team’s 86-75 regular season-ending win over St. John’s on Saturday. “… It’s a credit to the team’s toughness and buying into roles over the last month. Five of our top eight guys are in their first year with us so it took some time to build that synergy and chemistry, but I couldn’t be more proud of this group.” Creighton, meanwhile, opened the season 18-1 but enters the postseason coming off three losses in its final four regular-season contests – a stretch beginning with the two-point home loss to the Friars on Feb. 22.
TV: 9:30 p.m ET, Fox Sports 1
ABOUT CREIGHTON (23-8): The Bluejays have gone 5-7 since that record-setting start (and guard Maurice Watson Jr.’s season-ending injury), and they wound up settling for sixth after all the tiebreakers were sorted out even though they tied for the third-best conference record at 10-8. Junior guard Marcus Foster, a first-team All-Big East selection, leads the team in scoring at 18.5 points per outing while 7-foot freshman Justin Patton earned second-team all-conference recognition averaging 13.1 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Guard Khyri Thomas (12.5 points) is the only other active player averaging double digits, but the sophomore is more renowned for his play on the other end of the court as he shared Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors with Villanova’s Jason Hart and Mikal Bridges.
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (20-11): The Friars have rounded out quite nicely after losing NBA draft picks Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil in the offseason with forwards Rodney Bullock (16.1 points) and Emmitt Holt (12.3) and guards Kyron Cartwright (11.3) and Jalen Lindsey (10.3) all averaging double figures. Bullock and Cartwright were second-team All-Big East selections, and the latter also was named the conference’s most improved player after leading the league in assists (6.8). Bullock and Holt are the Friars’ top rebounders at 6.4 and 5.2 per game, respectively.