The Providence Friars try to follow up an upset win over Villanova with a first-round victory in the Big East tournament when they face the DePaul Blue Demons on Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden. The Friars beat the No. 8 Wildcats in their regular-season finale on Saturday.
Providence (13-12) has won four of its last six games, including a 57-47 victory at DePaul on Feb. 13. The teams also played in late December, with the Friars pulling out a double-overtime victory at home.
DePaul (4-13) has dropped three in a row and eight of its last nine, dating to Jan. 27. The Blue Demons have had trouble staying on the court, with 11 different games being postponed or canceled this season.
If you’re going to bet on this game, a look at the college basketball odds shows Providence as a seven-point favorite, with the over/under set at 135 points.
Everyone is on even ground now that the conference tournament is starting, with a win meaning you move forward and a loss meaning you go home. For the Blue Demons to move forward, they’re going to need some better offensive production, as they’ve averaged 61.3 points over their current three-game losing streak.
Leading the way is senior guard Charlie Moore, who is averaging 14.4 points and 4.4 assists per game. Moore scored 19 points in the first meeting with Providence this season but wasn’t available for the second contest.
Over his last four games, Moore has been up and down. In losses to Creighton and Marquette, he scored nine points, hitting just one 3-pointer in each contest. In games against St. John’s and Georgetown, Moore averaged 23 points and three 3-pointers per contest.
Junior guard Javon Freeman-Liberty has missed the last five games while in concussion protocol but hopes to play on Wednesday night. Freeman-Liberty is averaging 13.4 points per game and would give DePaul another scorer to rely on if he can go.
Speaking of two scorers, Providence has a pair that the Blue Demons will have to be wary of at MSG. Junior guard David Duke is averaging 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists, while senior center Nate Watson is contributing 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Duke has been the team’s best outside scorer, hitting 51 3-pointers on 40.2% accuracy. He also averages over a steal a game.
Watson is tough near the basket, hitting 60.3% of his field-goal attempts. Another scorer to watch out for is junior guard A.J. Reeves, who has 46 3-pointers and averages 9.8 points per game.
Coach Ed Cooley’s squad has advanced to postseason play in each of the last seven years that the NCAAs and NIT were played, but the Friars will need to make a run in this tournament to repeat that.
Although DePaul will play better if Freeman-Liberty is able to play, it still won’t be enough for coach Dave Leitao’s team to pull the upset. Providence is looking to add a couple of tournament wins to its resume for possible NIT consideration.
Look for Duke to have a big game scoring the ball and filling up the stat sheet as the Friars pull away in the second half. When doing your college basketball betting, take Providence to win and cover in this one.