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Seton Hall (16-16) vs. Providence (21-11)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 7 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (19,763) -- New York, New York. Television: FS1. Home Record: Seton Hall 10-8, Providence 13-3. Away Record: Seton Hall 4-7, Providence 5-6. Neutral Record: Seton Hall 3-1, Providence 3-2. Conference Record: Seton Hall 6-12, Providence 10-8. Series Record: Providence leads 48-46.

GAME NOTES: In the first semifinal bout of the Big East Conference Tournament, the fourth-seeded Providence Friars meet an unexpected foe, as they tangle with the eighth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates at Madison Square Garden.

Sterling Gibbs hit a step back jumper as the buzzer sounded to give Seton Hall a stunning victory over top-seed Villanova in Thursday's quarterfinals. The win was quite a surprising one considering the Pirates went just 6-12 in conference play this season and had barely snuck by Butler 51-50 in the first round of the event.

Providence gave its NCAA Tournament hopes a boost in the quarterfinals by topping St. John's, 79-74, to move to this part of the tourney. The Friars have won four of their last five games overall, including a 74-69 triumph over Seton Hall on Feb. 28.

That win came in the only meeting of the season between these teams, helping Providence improve to 48-46 in the all-time series. The winner this time will face either Creighton or Xavier in the title tilt.

It was an erratic final minute for Seton Hall against Villanova, as the Pirates took a 59-58 lead after a pair of free-throws by Eugene Teague, but JayVaughn Pinkston responded for the Wildcats by splitting two foul shots. After a Patrik Auda turnover. Josh Hart put the Wildcats ahead 61-59 with 40 seconds left. Then Jaren Sina drained a 3-pointer to put the Pirates back on top. The lead was short-lived as Darrun Hilliard got Villanova back in front 63-62 with seven ticks left on the clock. However, Gibbs didn't let the Wildcats escape, sinking the game-winner.

Gibbs (13.2 ppg, 4.2 apg) is one of four players averaging in double figures for the Pirates. He does more than score, however, as his playmaking ability is also strong when it comes to setting up his teammates. Fuquan Edwin (14.3 ppg) is the top scoring threat, shooting 43.9 percent from the field. Eugene Teague (11.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is a solid forward on the inside, and Brian Oliver (10.5 ppg) provides scoring depth. Sina (6.2 ppg) isn't leaned on for much, but he is shooting 39.4 percent from the floor and showed real poise for a freshman in the final minutes against Villanova.

In a game that was played primarily in the paint, Providence made enough plays on the interior to get past St. John's. LaDonate Henton (16 points, 11 rebounds), Kadeem Batts (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Tyler Harris (10 rebounds) were all impressive, especially on the glass, and Josh Fortune poured in a game-high 24 points.

What the Friars did not have going for them on Thursday was Bryce Cotton, who finished with only 12 points on 1-of-10 shooting. It was quite a step backward for Cotton (21.4 ppg, 5.8 apg), who is the second-best scorer in the Big East behind Creighton's Doug McDermott. Fortunately the trio of Henton (13.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Batts (12.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and Harris (11.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) consistently make the Friars a tough group to deal with in the paint. However, Providence really suffers when it comes to depth, with Fortune the only other player on the roster scoring more than 3.8 ppg.

Providence must remain focused on this game and not look past Seton Hall, a team that is playing well with nothing to lose. As long as Cotton gets back on track the Friars have the edge.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Providence 72, Seton Hall 67

03/14 10:47:47 ET

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