The Providence Friars and the Kentucky Wildcats meet Friday in NCAA Tournament First Round action from Greensboro Coliseum. Providence is currently 21-11 on the year. The Friars lost to UConn in their Big East Tournament game last week. As for Kentucky, they’re sitting at 21-11 as well following a loss to Vanderbilt last Friday. Check back all season long for free college basketball picks at Sports Chat Place.
Providence finished off the regular season with a 21-10 record. The Friars went just 1-3 in their last four games however, falling to UConn, Xavier and Seton Hall in that time with a lone win over Georgetown otherwise. Providence earned a five-seed in the Big East Tournament.
In tournament activity last Thursday against UConn, the Friars were down 35-19 at the break. Providence hit a 47-38 run from there but still lost 73-66. Bryce Hopkins led the team on 16 points and seven rebounds, and Noah Locke put up 14 points.
Over on the Kentucky side, they also finished the regular season on a 21-0 clip. The Wildcats’ final six games were a 5-1 run with wins over Mississippi State, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Arkansas. The lone loss came 68-66 to Vanderbilt.
In the SEC Tournament matchup against Vanderbilt last Friday, Kentucky was down 39-34 going into the second half. The Wildcats were outscored 41-39 the rest of the way and lost 80-73. Oscar Tshiebwe (19 points; 15 rebounds) and Jacob Toppin (21 points; 11 rebounds) both doubled up.
ANDREW’S FREE PICK
I’ll probably stay with Kentucky. The Wildcats didn’t play all that well against Vanderbilt despite shooting a reasonable 42.4 percent from the field with a 43-26 rebounding advantage (21-6 offensive). Prior to that, Kentucky had been playing well during their 5-1 stretch. The Wildcats have scored 66 or more options in 15 straight outings and shoddy post a decent total here. As for Providence, they’ve got a tepid 124 combined points over their last pair of games—both against pretty tough teams. This one’s not going to get any easier, so I like Kentucky to take control.