‘Cats need holy win

Matt Clark

On Feb. 11, Providence (14-4, 5-2) will face off against Villanova in a Big East matchup. Providence is a tough Big East team and has one of the top players in the country Ryan Gomes. Villanova, as always, has their work cut out for them.

Offense: Ryan Gomes. Who’s second in the Big East in points per game? Ryan Gomes. Who’s third in the Big East in field goal percentage? Ryan Gomes. Why did Providence crack the AP poll for the first time in seven years? Ryan Gomes. Gomes is a four-time Big East player of the week, and has eight double-doubles this year. As a team, the Friars are 24th in the NCAA in three-pointers made per game with 8.1. Villanova doesn’t have just one option to go to. Curtis Sumpter, Randy Foye and Allan Ray are all in the Big East top 20 for points per game. Mike Nardi is averaging 4.5 assists per game and is third in the Big East with a .877 free-throw percentage. ‘Nova is ahead of the Friars in points per game and field goal percentages. Advantage: Wildcats

Defense: Both teams are strong. The ‘Cats are ranked 22nd in the NCAA in defensive field-goal percentage, only giving up 39.3 percent a game. The Friars are 10th in the nation in blocks per game, 19th in the nation in steals per game, average only 14.5 personal fouls per game, which is second best in the nation. Providence holds teams to an average of 62.8 total points per game. Advantage: Friars

Bench: The Friars play a 3-2 and a 2-3 offense. When in the 3-2 offensive set Dwight Brewington is the extra guard, leaving forwards Tuukka Kotti and Rob Sander to come off the bench. In a basic 2-3 offense, Brewington and Kotti come off the bench. Combined, they add an estimated 16.6 points per game, with a .45 field-goal percentage, four assists per game, and 7.4 rebounds per game. Andreas Bloch, Chris Charles and Will Sheridan bring ‘Nova an extra 11 rebounds per game, and have a combined .551 field-goal percentage. Derrick Snowden and Bloch also add the extra leadership needed on a young team. Advantage: Wildcats

Key for a ‘Nova win: Don’t focus on Ryan Gomes. No matter what you do he is going to score, you can’t stop him. Single team him and concentrate on shutting down the rest of the team. Take after Seton Hall in that respect. Watch out for their big man Marcus Douthit, last year he schooled us for nine points, seven boards, eight steals and five blocks. At least one Wildcat might have a bad night shooting, but the rest will probably be fine; just don’t give the rock to the one who keeps missing. Follow shots, and watch turnovers; the season is half over, youth and inexperience is no longer an excuse. Keep the ball up top, don’t challenge Gomes and Douthit.

Key for a Friar win: Gomes! Gomes! Gomes! Providence is a very experienced team; use it against the young Wildcats. Go inside with the ball. The ‘Cats are small, the six-foot-ten-inch 235 pounds senior Douthit should be able to overpower the six-foot-nine-inch 215 pound sophomore Fraser. Wait for the shot, sooner or later ‘Nova won’t cover the perimeter shot, especially with Gomes down low.

Prediction: Providence will win by five.