USC V. Providence
Thursday March 17, 9:50pm
The cross-coastal matchup between the Friars and the Trojans is going to be a must see for college basketball fans. The up tempo play of USC against the hard, Big-East style defense of Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn will for sure to produce quite the highlight reel. The 8 Seed Trojans are, however on a downward slope, losing 7 of the last 10 games of the season, but having a notable win over Arizona in the 4OT thriller earlier this season. The Friars too are not immune to slumps, falling into a rut midway through the conference schedule, but finishing the season strong to give them the 9 Seed.
Match-up to Watch
On paper the Friars and Trojans are nearly identical in size so speed, and dominating the transition game is going to be the determining factor. For the Trojans, this weight falls on Sophomore G Jordan McLaughlin. Last year, McLaughlin was selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team and averaged over 12 points per game. On the Friars side, this role is lead by none other than Wooden Award hopeful, Kris Dunn. Dunn needs to attack the rim off rebounds and steals and not settle for jump shots. The Friars have struggled with relying too heavily on outside shooting leading to some bad losses.
X-Factor for the Trojans
The best way for the Trojans to knockout the Friars is by keeping them out of the lane and forcing them to take contested outside shots. As mentioned previously, the Friars have a tendency to be trigger happy at 3-point line in recent games. Though lately they have improved their shooting percentage from outside, it has not been nearly consistent enough to win many games.
X-Factor for the Friars
Everyone knows the dynamic duo that is Dunn and Bentil, but if the Friars want to make a serious run, they are going to have to get support from Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey. By having Bullock and Lindsey contribute early in the game by making jump shots and getting rebounds, it will force the Trojans to play them more tightly, opening up the floor for Dunn and Bentil to run the show.
The biggest stat is the striking similarities in steals, turnovers, rebounds. The Trojans average 7 steals per game, the Friars average 6.4 steals per game. The Trojans average 12.2 turnovers per game, the Friars average 12 turnovers per game. Finally, the Trojans average 39 rebounds per game, the Friars average 37.
This game is going to come down to heart and hustle, and the Friars are going to take this one home. The talent of Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn is going to overwhelm the younger Trojan team.