Providence Friars vs. Connecticut Huskies Pick & Prediction MARCH 9th 2024

Fresh off its first top-10 road win since 2009, No. 2 UConn will make the quick trip across the state line to battle Providence in the teams’ Big East regular-season finale on Saturday night.

Coach Dan Hurley has emphasized that his Huskies (27-3, 17-2 Big East) have to continue giving their best, although the upcoming game is essentially meaningless after UConn clinched the conference’s regular-season title last weekend.

“I personally feel like it’s important for me to put pressure on the team to win every game because we’re in that pressure point of the year,” Hurley said earlier this week. “It’s not OK for us to not give our best performance. We’ve had a great, great year. We know the position we’re in, and we want to keep achieving and playing to our identity.”

Following a 74-67 win on Wednesday at No. 8 Marquette, the Huskies can still make some history in their season finale. Another win would break a current four-way tie for the Big East record for single-season conference wins.

Five players average double figures in scoring for UConn, which has lost just once since its opening conference game on Dec. 20 at Seton Hall — by 19 points Feb. 20 at then-No. 15 Creighton.

Despite the hard-fought game against Marquette, there is still room to grow. The Huskies scored just four points over the final 7:54.

“Every game matters. We’re still thinking about March Madness seeding and trying to be the best that we can be and trying to get better,” UConn guard Cam Spencer said. “I think (it) was kind of good for us to face some adversity down the stretch (at Marquette) and learn and grow from that, but every game matters to build momentum going into the postseason.”

Alex Karaban had a game-high 23 points at Marquette, while Spencer had 17 points and eight rebounds, six assists and three steals without turning the ball over.

Tristen Newton, who averages a team-leading 15.1 points per game, added 10.

Providence (19-11, 10-9) played the Huskies tough in a 74-65 loss on Jan. 31 in Storrs, Conn., and now enters the rematch having just broken a two-game skid with a 71-58 win on Tuesday at Georgetown.

“Proud of our guys for responding after two very tough games,” Providence coach Kim English said. “At Marquette and home against Villanova we just got outclassed. … We needed to win (on Tuesday). But we also need to play well on Saturday.”

Devin Carter posted his 11th double-double of the season against his former coach Ed Cooley and the Hoyas, registering 24 points and 12 rebounds. He is averaging 19.2 points per game.

Most importantly, though, it was a stout defensive effort. Georgetown’s 0.88 points per possession were the fewest allowed by Providence since a Jan. 17 win at DePaul, a team that is winless in conference play.

And Providence is left to ponder what could have been after standout Bryce Hopkins was lost for the season in early January due to a torn left ACL.

“I look at it as two seasons,” English said. “We were in first place in the Big East — 2-0 — and then we lose Bryce Hopkins. It was a completely different fight. A revamping of everything.”

–Field Level Media

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