Today unranked Providence College (13-7) will face the #1 Villanova Wildcats (18-1) at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Providence – Villanova Rivalry
Yeah – those Wildcats, the defending National Champions.
Prior to the two teams joining the Big East, the rivalry was an evenly matched affair at 12-12, but now Villanova leads the series 59-38. Providence, however, won an overtime thriller in Philadelphia last year 82-76, making them one of only two teams to have beaten Villanova at home in the past four seasons.
They also played Villanova tight in the Big East Semifinals, before losing 76-68.
Providence is one of the only teams in the country that’s starting five juniors this season. and is coming off an 18-point rout of Georgetown (completing a season sweep)
RPI: Providence (53), Villanova (1)
Points per game: Providence, 69.2; Villanova, 78.6.
Opponent points per game: Providence, 63.8; Villanova, 61.
Providence vs. #1
This is the Friars’ 16th game against a #1 team and they have a 2-13 record. In the 13 games they lost, the average margin was 17 points – with the worst beating coming from Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas who won 85-44 in 1985.
Their last #1 matchup was an early season game in Lexington in November 2014 against another set of Wildcats – Kentucky. Those Wildcats rolled the Friars 58-38.
Providence does have two wins against the #1 team – both at home.
Dec-29-79: Providence 82, #1 Michigan 81 (20T)
Michigan came to town as part of the inaugural InBank Holiday Classic (InBank became Fleet and which like many other banks became part of BofA) which also featured Texas and Rhode Island. Michigan (6-0), which lost to Indiana in the 1979 National Championship Game featured Phil Hubbard and Ricky Green.
Although Providence (4-2) had already lost at home to Wolverine rival Purdue, it had a secret weapon – Sonar aka Joe Hasset, one of the Friars’ all-time best shooting guards who was named one of the NBA’s Top 50 Pure Shooters.
The game, which unfortunately was not televised, was a classic double overtime battle. Forward Bill (“Soup”) Campbell and Hasset led the team with 25 and 20 points respectively, but it was Center Bob Misevicius who was the hero. Misevicius tied the game at the end of the first overtime and won the game with a baseline jumper in their final possession in the second overtime on a feed from Campbell. Afterwards, Michigan Coach Orr said, “We played hard, but Providence played like crazy.”
Hasset would lead the team to a return to the NCAA that year with a 24-4 record, losing to Kansas State 87-80 in the first round. Marquette would win the tournament that year over North Carolina, who like Michigan the year before, would visit Providence the next year and fall on a last minute jumper fed by Campbell.
Feb-24-2009: Providence 81, #1 Pittsburgh 73
It was senior night for the 16-11 Friars as they faced 24-2 Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh had won seven straight and beaten Providence eight times in a row.
Led by guards Weyinmi Efejuku and Sharaud Curry who scored 16 and 15 points respectively, Providence jumped to an early 15-4 lead and led by 18 at the half. Pittsburgh was able to close the lead to five with 51 seconds remaining, but that is as close as they got.
Unfortunately for the Friars, the win was not enough to put them in the NCAA tournament and Friars finished the season 19-14 after a first round NIT loss.