GREENSBORO, N.C. (WPRI) — No. 11 Providence will face No. 6 Kentucky on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
It’ll be the first time the two teams meet in the tournament. The Friars are hoping to use sophomore forward Bryce Hopkins, who transferred from Kentucky, to their advantage.
Hopkins came in off the bench for the Wildcats in 28 games as a freshman, averaging 6.4 minutes per game and just over two points per game. Since transferring to Providence, he’s earned unanimous First Team All-Big East honors, averaging 16.1 points per game in 32 starts.
PC has posted an 0-3 record all-time against the Wildcats.
The Friars have been strong in offensive efficiency, but struggle with overall team defense and three-point shooting. Only 31% of the Friars’ attempts are 3-point shots—among the bottom 50 in the country.
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WATCH: PC Friars to face Kentucky Wildcats for first time in NCAA tournament
The Wildcats are eight-time national champions and they’re hoping their offensive versatility, offensive rebounding, interior scoring, and 3-point shooting pays off against the Friars.
The Wildcats have had a bumpy ride to the tournament, having been written off before being deemed back in the mix.
Some of their key players include Antonio Reeves, Jacob Toppin, Cason Wallace, Sahvir Wheeler and Oscar Tshiebwe. Reeves is Kentucky’s best shooter, both from deep and on runners and floaters. Wallace is considered one of the best defenders in the country and needs to be stable at the point—which he has shown this season. The Wildcats big man Oscar Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebounding with 13.1 per game.
How can the Friars win? By taking advantage of Kentucky’s average ball-screen defense and inconsistencies.
Tipoff is at 7:10 p.m. on Friday on WPRI 12.
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