Three's Company: UConn-Providence Quarterfinals Preview
They say good things come in threes, and fans will surely be in for a special treat Thursday at 2:30 pm as the #4 Uconn Huskies take on the #5 Providence Friars for the Quarterfinals in the Big East Tournament.
A trip down memory lane
1998 was the last time these two powerhouse schools faced off in the Big East Tournament. That season, the Huskies beat Providence and won the Big East Tournament, but eventually lost in the Elite 8 to UNC.
That year, Richard Hamilton scored 21 points per game and was selected to the All-Big East First Team. Huskies finished the regular season 26-4. The infamous Huskies logo might have changed, but there are a lot of similarities with the '97-'98 team that resembles today's team.
On January 4th, Providence beat UConn 73-61 at the AMP. Jordan Hawkins had 15 points, but it was Bryce Hopkins who had a game-high 27 points that helped push the Friars over UConn. The Huskies shot poorly from beyond the arc (22%) along with their 52% FT percentage was a recipe for disaster. They also had 27 turnovers in the loss.
It was a different story on February 22nd as the Huskies won 87-69. It was all Jordan Hawkins who had 20 pts shooting 50% from the field. UConn held Bryce Hopkins to only 16 points. They doubled their shooting percentage from three (47%) which was a big help.
What does UConn need to do to win
Look how the first two games went, what was the common denominator? Bryce Hopkins. UConn needs to stop him from scoring. Whoever is guarding him, whether it's Hawkins or Karaban or anyone else, will need to play their best defensive performance to make sure the Huskies roll on.
The guard play will be important as always for UConn. But it will be the role players like Calcaterra, Karaban, and Clingan to have a big game and provide meaningful minutes. I am not saying they need to score the ball at a high level, but rebounding, defensive stops, and hustle will provide so much for UConn.
Through two games vs PC, UConn has a total of 40 turnovers. They need to stop playing carelessly and sloppily. Clean basketball is what will win them games. This time of year, those mistakes will eliminate the Huskies. Danny Hurley eluded to this just days after their win over the Friars:
Two teams with the loudest fanbases in the Big East will show out on Thursday afternoon. Ed Cooley and Danny Hurley both call Madison Square Garden their home away from home, so expect high intensity from both sides in a rivalry matchup that has been long overdue in the Big East Tournament.