The University of Rhode Island men’s basketball team continues their heated in-state rivalry with Providence College on Dec. 10 as each team looks to prove they are the dominant team in the Ocean State.
Both teams currently boast winning records and each already has an impressive win on their resume as they look towards March. Â The Rams currently sit at 4-2 overall and already have a top-25 win after beating no. 21 Nebraska at home in overtime. The Friars are 6-1 with wins over Notre Dame and Florida State, and their only loss came to no.1 Kentucky, 58-38.
The game figures to be a low-scoring one as both the Rams and Friars rank outside the top 150 teams in the nation in points per game. With that being said each team has strengths and weaknesses, as each squad holds an edge at different positions.
In the frontcourt the Rams have good depth with senior Gilvydas Biruta and sophomore Hassan Martin starting and juniors Earl Watson, Ifeanyi Onyekaba, and Jarelle Reischel coming off the bench. The Friars will counter with two 7-foot players in senior Carson Desrosiers and freshman Paschal Chukwu, along with senior LaDontae Henton, junior Tyler Harris and freshman Ben Bentil.
The key from this group will come down to the Rams’ ability to continue their strong effort on the glass. They currently average 38 rebounds per game to the Friars’ 34 rebounds per game, which rank 98th and 222nd in the country, respectively. Desrosiers figures to go up against Biruta, while Martin figures to draw Providence’s second-leading scorer, Harris. The high-scoring Henton will draw multiple defenders with freshman Jared Terrell getting the first crack at him.
In this scenario the Rams hold a significant edge as Biruta has been perhaps their steadiest and most efficient performer, averaging 10 points and seven rebounds per game. In comparison, Desrosiers averages just seven points and five rebounds per game, while also averaging six more minutes every contest.
Henton has been able to stretch the floor for the Friars, shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc, while also protecting the rim with two blocks per game and handling the scoring load with an average of 21 points. Although Henton is a forward, freshman guard Terrell figures to see most of the minutes against Henton due to his size, strength and quickness. Â Terrell also checked Nebraska senior Terran Pettaway for most of the game, holding the best player for last year’s tournament team to just five made field goals on 17 shots and forcing eight turnovers.
In the backcourt the key players in the game will be sophomore E.C. Matthews and Terrell, while senior T.J. Buchanan, freshman Jarvis Garrett and junior Biggie Minnis figure to factor in as well. On the other side Providence will lean on last year’s prized recruit, sophomore Kris Dunn, along with freshman point guard Kyron Cartwright. Senior Ted Bancroft, sophomore Junior Lomomba and freshman Jalen Lindsey figure to have more minor roles.
The matchup to watch in this case will be the Rams’ leading scorer Matthews against Dunn. These two will carry the backcourts for their respective teams and both players are very talented, with Matthews averaging 18 points per game and Dunn averaging nine. The edge in the matchup will go to the Rams because of their depth in the backcourt as they go potentially five deep including sophomore guard Matthew Butler. The Friars, on the other hand, have just a three-guard rotation, with Lomomba playing less than eight minutes his last two games.
Rhode Island will look to pound the ball down low and use their depth against a thin Providence team to get revenge for last year’s home loss and add another quality win.