3 Reasons Why Providence Is A Great Sleeper Bet To Win The Big East Tournament

The Friars have what it takes to cut down the nets

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  • After a poor start to the season, the Providence Friars (18-12, 11-6 in-conference) have come on strong as of late, winning five games in a row and seven of its last nine. During this hot streak, PC has overmatched AP-ranked opponents Seton Hall (No. 8), Creighton (No. 11), and Villanova (No. 14), the only three teams above the Friars in the Big East standings.

  • The Big East has been weaker than usual this season, with no team consistently getting it done over a long stretch. Providence could ride their momentum into Madison Square Garden, where ninth-year coach Ed Cooley and the Friars usually perform well, and get the best of one of the typical powerhouses to nab their third-ever conference title.

  • Senior swingman Alpha Diallo has evolved into a scout-worthy inside-outside player, with a smooth outside stroke, strong first step, and some low-post chops. He and UMass graduate transfer guard Luwane Pipkins have meshed together as the season progressed, and turned the season around for PC. Sophomore sharpshooter David Duke has helped, too.

  • Providence does lots of things well, but lately the key has been ball movement. The Friars have an assist on 35 of 74 field goals (47.3 percent) across its past three outings. They also get quality looks at the hoop and get to the free throw line a lot, and their defense has been tremendous. They give up the fewest field goals (12.9) and second-fewest points per game (67.2).

  • They may have what it takes to reward bettors at the Big East Conference Tournament, sitting at a very tempting +800 to win (DraftKings). This article will list three reasons to consider jumping all over that +800. Click the button below to take advantage of our exclusive $500 risk-free bet offer!

1. They're Confident

Providence has shot the three much better since this turnaround, and moved the ball more effectively. They make things happen off of penetration, whether it be a drive-and-dish or a drawn foul. They rank among the best in the conference in free throw attempts, averaging 21.7 attempts at the line in the last ten games. They have also played much better team defense as the season has progressed, and rebound the ball with effort and aggressiveness. Simply put, they are going to enter the Big East Tournament with a lot of confidence in their ability to knock off the top competition, as they have throughout this late-season stretch.

2. Coach Cooley And His Seniors Have The Experience

Coincidentally, the Friars will once again draw the No. 4 seed in this week's conference tourney. Cooley will draw on his seniors, UMass graduate transfer point guard Luwane Pipkins and fourth-year inside-outside wing Alpha Diallo, to continue playing inspired ball on the biggest of stages.

Since February 1, Pipkins has averaged 20.8 points in games that he has played more than 20 minutes. He has hit three or more three-pointers in the last four games, after never even hitting three treys in two consecutive contests the first 27 games of the season. And he has gotten to the line with his aggressive drives—in the huge win at Villanova February 29, he hit nine of 10 from the free-throw line en route to 27 points.

Not to be outdone, Diallo has done it all, averaging 14 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game and lighting up box scores in Providence's incredible run into March. He put up 35 points and 10 rebounds in the Friars' huge win over Seton Hall, hitting all five attempts from beyond the arc and eight-of-nine at the free-throw line. He plays with passion and pride, and he will not go into the Big East Tournament unmotivated.

3. They Preach Team Basketball On Both Ends Of The Floor

Sophomore David Duke has helped matters, too. Almost a steadying presence for the Friars offense, Duke has been their best three-point shooter (42.3%), their leading assist-man (3.2 per game), and one of their top rebounders (4.2 per game) this season, and he seems to always be in the right place or making the right play. He exploded for 36 points on 6-of-8 from distance (12-of-18 from the field, 6-of-7 from the line) against Creighton January 18.

But this squad is not just about its core trio, or one of them coming up big. Lately the key to the Friars' conference dominance has been ball movement and team chemistry. Providence has an assist on 35 of 74 field goals (47.3 percent) across its past three outings. They also get quality looks at the hoop and get to the free throw line a lot, and their defense has been tremendous. They give up the fewest field goals (12.9) and second-fewest points per game (67.2).

Providence is very physical defensively, and they have hit their stride offensively at the perfect time. With Cooley's timelessly-motivational demeanor, a strong core of two-way players, and a good supporting cast, he and the Friars could very well carry their momentum into one of PC's favorite venues, Madison Square Garden, and reward investors with a +800 windfall as they take down the Big East Conference Championship.  

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