If any Rhody fans tell you they don’t have this game circled on their calendar, chances are they’re lying. The Rams welcome the Providence Friars back to the Ryan Center (much to the chagrin of Ed Cooley) for their annual in-state showdown. And we don’t need to remind folks, but the PC game hasn’t gone URI’s way the past few years. Rhode Island is in the midst of a three-game losing streak against the Friars dating back to the 2009-10 season. Rhody’s win that season was certainly epic, coming from 16 points down in the second half to steal an 86-82 win in Kingston. The Rams will be looking for similar results this year as they try to end the drought.
2012-13 Record: 19-15 (9-9 in the Big East)
Key Losses: G Vincent Council, G Ricky Ledo (LOL!)
Key Returners: G Bryce Cotton, F Kadeem Batts, F LaDontae Henton
Player to Watch: F LaDontae Henton
Henton likely isn’t the first name to come to mind when fans think of the Friars, but he needs to be the focal point for Dan Hurley based on last season’s results. The 6’6″ forward played all 40 minutes against the Rams a year ago, scoring 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Simply put, Henton was unstoppable. The good news is that the Rams clearly have more depth in the front court this season; they’re going to need every bit of it if they’re going to top PC.
Prediction: Providence 77 – Rhode Island 69
Excuse us while we affix our flame-retardant suit. But let’s face it. All Ledo jokes aside, the Friars are returning their entire team from a season ago, less Vincent Council. While that’s certainly a big loss, this team was able to run Rhody out of the building a year ago… and Council didn’t play in that game either. In fact, PC used only seven players last December and got exactly zero points from their two subs. Yes the Rams are better and deeper this season, and yes they’re at home. But the Friars have more depth as well. Provided Ed Cooley’s squad comes into this one healthy (which was certainly an issue last year), PC wins again, albeit in a much closer game.