Providence (8-2) at Boston College (5-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Conte Forum (8,606) -- Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: PC 7-0, BC 4-2. Away Record: PC 1-2, BC 1-1. Neutral Record: PC 0-0, BC 0-2. Conference Record: PC 0-0, BC 0-0. Series Record: Providence leads, 58-48.
GAME NOTES: Former conference rivals will square off at Conte Forum on Saturday afternoon, as the Boston College Eagles play host to the Providence Friars.
Providence has been one of the biggest surprises in the Big East this season. After losing back-to-back games to UMass (77-75) and Penn State (55-52 in OT) at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in mid-November, the Friars have reeled off six consecutive wins, most recently closing out an undefeated five-game homestand with a 79-45 rout of Colgate on Tuesday.
Boston College has been up and down through its first 10 games, but it has performed well on its home floor, winning four of six at Conte Forum. After losing five of their previous seven tilts, the Eagles have bounced back nicely in recent weeks with two straight wins over Saint Francis (72-64) and New Hampshire (61-59 in OT).
In 106 all-time meetings between these New England rivals, Providence holds a 58-48 advantage. The teams have split the last six meetings since BC moved from the Big East to the ACC in 2005.
The Friars are shooting a respectable 44.4 percent from the field en route to an average of 69.5 ppg, but the biggest reason for their fast start has been their ability to keep opponents off the scoreboard, as it ranks third in the Big East in field goal percentage defense (.370) and fourth in scoring defense (56.5 ppg). They were clicking at both ends of the floor in the 34-point thrashing of Colgate, shooting 45.7 percent from the floor while logging 17 takeaways. Bryce Cotton drained five 3-pointers on his way to 21 points, while LaDontae Henton logged a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Fortune netted 17 points in the victory, and Kadeem Batts tacked on 10 points, seven assists and seven boards. Much of Providence's success can be attributed to the emergence of Bryce Cotton, who leads the league in scoring with 20.8 ppg while adding 4.3 apg. Batts (16.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Henton (16.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) have been outstanding complements in the frontcourt, giving the Friars one of the most potent scoring trios in the country. Fortune rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 10.4 ppg.
Boston College was able to overcome a 13-point, second-half deficit to force overtime against New Hampshire, and after missing all 19 of its 3-point attempts in regulation, it drained a pair of long-range field goals in the extra session to seal the win. The team did not fare well from the floor overall (.354), but Ryan Anderson was outstanding, making 10-of-15 of his field goal attempts for 23 points while adding a career-high 19 rebounds and three blocks for good measure. Olivier Hanlan chipped in 10 points in the thrilling win. Anderson has been one of the ACC's best forwards, tallying 15.2 ppg and 10.0 rpg, while also making an impact at the defensive end with 1.0 bpg and 1.1 spg. Hanlan (12.4 ppg) and Joe Rahon (10.9 ppg, 3.8 apg) have had their moments in the backcourt, but neither shoots better than 41.1 percent from the field.
The Eagles have defended their home court well this season, but it has yet to take down an opponent as strong as Providence. The Friars have more than enough scoring power to put up points on the road, and the Eagles don't nearly have the personnel to crack Providence's outstanding defensive attack.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 71, Boston College 62
12/22 10:32:53 ET