The NCAA Tournament bracket was released early Sunday night and the Tar Heels earned a 6th seed in the East region. The Heels will be facing a tough opponent from the Big East in the Providence Friars. Providence went 23-11 on the season, including a 10-8 record in the Big East and won a Big East Tournament Championship Saturday in MSG. The Friar’s best wins were over Creighton on January 18th and March 15th. Here is a first look of North Carolina vs. Providence.
Here are some basic stats, per ESPN.com, about the Providence Friars. The Friars don’t stand out much at any single one of those stats, ranking no better than 80th in any of those four offensive stats.
Here are some more advanced stats, per kenpom.com. Providence excels at offensive rebounding, ranked 44th in the nation in that department. They are also a very efficient offense once adjusted for tempo. Their offensive revolves around talented point guard Bryce Cotton, who averages over 20 points a game for the Friars. He played over 96% of the Friars minutes in the regular season, so look for the Tar Heel’s gameplan to revolve around stopping Cotton.
Overall, I like the match-up that UNC got with Providence. The Friars are a talented team, but stopping Cotton will go a long way towards winning the ballgame. The Heels will probably stick J.P. Tokoto on Cotton and put James Michael McAdoo on Tyler Harris or Kadeem Batts. Batts and Harris start down low for the Heels, and neither are particularly big (both measure in at 6’9″) or efficient offensively.
The Heels should also be able to get away with playing some of their zone defenses against the Friars, as Providence doesn’t shoot many three pointers or get many of their points from behind the arc. LaDontae Henton is the team’s second best three point shooter at 36.6%, and point guard Bryce Cotton leads the team percentage-wise at 36.8%.
Defensively, kenpom.com lists Providence’s defensive fingerprint as mostly man. The Heels will struggle a little bit with Providence’s size, but shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring points in San Antonio. The Friars are not a great defensive team and don’t force turnovers particularly well. They are best at stopping three point shooting from teams, but the Tar Heels aren’t a great three point shooting team to start with, so that strength should be mostly neutralized in this second round match-up.