The Providence Friars won their first Big East regular season title after more than four decades in the league in 2022, but the selection committee did them no favors pairing them against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The teams will meet at KeyBank Arena in Buffalo, NY, at 12:40 p.m. ET, with the proceedings broadcast on TruTV.
No. 4 Providence: 25-5 (14-3 Big East): At-Large
KenPom rating: 32 Overall, 80 Offense, 50 Defense
NET ranking: 32, (5-3 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Nate Watson, 13.8 ppg
Key stat: PC was the luckiest team in college basketball this year according to KenPom.
How good the Friars are has been the subject of debate all season long, with the computers disliking them much more than their raw record would normally indicate. But what PC does is drive and force teams to defend them off the bounce; they’re 12th in the country in free throws attempted per field goal attempted.
No. 13 South Dakota State: 30-4 (18-0 Summit): Auto Bid
KenPom rating: 69 Overall, 11 Offense, 223 Defense
NET ranking: 65 (0-2 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Baylor Scheierman, 16.2 ppg
Key stat: SDSU is No. 1 in the nation in three-point shooting at 44.2%.
If you want entertaining basketball, do not miss the Jackrabbits. They start shooting before they leave the hotel, and basically don’t stop until the final horn. They’re an absolute sieve defensively, but when you’re pulling up from the timeline at will it makes up for plenty of deficiencies.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: Providence -2
Point total: 147.5
Moneyline: PC -135, SDSU +115
Against The Spread Pick: SDSU +2
Point total pick: Over 147.5
Pick to Win: SDSU
The Friars haven’t seen anything like what they’ll be up against on Thursday, and they just can’t be simulated in practice. While the over seems like sharp bet here, look for whomever can control the pace to have the advantage.