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Preview and Gamethread: Arkansas vs. Providence

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Just who are the Friars?

NCAA Basketball: Big East Tournament-Villanova vs Providence Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 8 p.m. CT

TV: ESPN2

Line: Providence -7.0

Location: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Providence, RI

We’ve reached the postseason and Arkansas has to travel to Rhode Island for a win or go home matchup against the Providence Friars. The Friars are a pretty healthy favorite in this one, especially with the absence of Daniel Gafford. Arkansas is going to have to deal with a pretty solid team on the block without him.

So who are the Friars and how did they get here?

They started the season 10-3 in non-conference play and, like Arkansas, had some wild up and down swings.

They’ve beaten South Carolina on a neutral court and Texas on the road, both teams that have beaten the Hogs. But they’ve also lost to Wichita State and Massachusetts, both programs in down years by their standards.

From there they struggled in Big East play, starting 0-3 with two home losses, but pulled together enough wins for an NIT birth much like the Hogs. They’ve gone 3-3 in their last six games, and oddly enough all three wins came against Butler. They lost in the Big East tournament to Villanova and enter this game at 18-15 and 7-11 in conference. They’ve gone 11-6 in home games this season.

Alpha Diallo (6’7”, 213 lbs.) and Nate Watson (6’10”, 250 lbs.) are going to be a handful inside. Diallo was named second team All-Big East and leads the team in scoring and rebounds. They have a lot of length at the guard spots with no guards in their rotation coming in at under 6’3”, which will be a problem defensively. They have struggled to shoot the ball effectively, but have played excellent defense this year. A matchup that hasn’t been great for the Hogs. Throw in not having Gafford and this will be a tough test for the younger Hogs.