Feb 20, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Providence Friars guard Vincent Council (32) handles the ball during the first half of a game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won 84-59. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte 49ers basketball: Niners visit Providence in NIT opening round


The Charlotte 49ers have finally returned to the POST-season! Granted it’s the NIT, instead of the NCAA’s, but after two straight losing seasons, and no postseason since 2008, I’ll take it.

Charlotte received the #5 seed in our bracket, and play at the fourth-seeded Providence Friars tonight at 7:15 on ESPN3.  Most satellite and cable providers provide free access to ESPN3 online with your subscription.  I know for a fact that Time Warner Cable does.  For those that do not have the ability to view TV on the internet, hopefully a local TV station will work out a deal to carry the game, or possibly a local restaurant.  Channel 46 covered the George Washington and Butler games off of outside feeds, so they would be the most likely candidate.  Also, many alums usually meet at Picasso’s or Wild Wing Cafe for viewing.

I’m sure you have heard the big news by now.  If Charlotte beats Providence in the NIT 1st Round, they get a shot at Robert Morris.  Just kidding.  No offense to RMU, but our fans are looking forward to a possible 2nd Round match-up vs. defending the NCAA champion Kentucky Wildcats, from the SEC.  In addition to measuring themselves against the former champs, even if the Cats aren’t what they were last year, 49er fans want to beat John Calipari.  I mentioned earlier in the season that Calipari threw the Niners under the bus in the old CUSA days when he was at Memphis; Charlote beat Memphis and made the NCAA’s, Memphis didn’t make it, and Calipari whined on national TV about his conference brethren making the NCAA’s over him.  So yeah, this is biggie.

Not to get to ahead of ourselves, but that’s the fun of brackets.  Who could Charlotte play after that if they win the first two games?  Let’s look and see. 

The third round of the NIT could potentially be the Arizona State Sun Devils of the Pac 12 (coached by Herb Sendek who used to be at NC State), the Baylor Bears of the Big 12, or Long Beach State, the other 49ers.  It would be cool to play the other 49ers, but it would also be cool to beat another BCS team.  If Charlotte beats Providence of the Big East, Kentucky, and Arizona State/Baylor, that would be three BCS teams in a row.

In the NIT Final Four the Niners could possibly play future CUSA brothers Southern Miss Golden Eagles or Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.  They could also play BCS schools Florida State Seminoles, Washington Huskies, or Tennessee Volunteers.  FSU beat the Niners earlier this year at Time Warner Cable Arena, while the Green and White pulled off an upset vs. Tennessee a couple of years ago, also at TWC Arena. 

Or they could face the BYU Cougars.  BYU has been a consistent basketball power for at least 25 years.

If they somehow made the NIT Championship, Charlotte could face the Alabama Crimson Tide, Stanford Cardinal, Maryland Terrapins, Virginia Cavaliers, St. John’s Red Storm or Iowa Hawkeyes.  Maybe the Indiana State Sycamores, which is the alma mater of Larry Bird, or A-10 brothers, St. Joseph’s or UMass (they are 1-0 vs. both).

Okay, now that I’ve gotten ahead of ourselves, let’s look at Providence.  Charlotte can’t play anyone else unless we beat the Friars.  As Jimmy V says, “Survive and Advance.”

Providence finished the regular season at 9-9 in the last year of the Big East before the split, and 17-14 overall.  The Friars are 12-4 at home, so let’s go get that 5th Friar home loss!

Providence has three common opponents with the Charlotte 49ers.  Providence lost to UMass, and beat UNC Asheville and Rhode Island, while the Niners are 3-0 vs. these teams.

SCOUTING THE FRIARS
Providence scores 67.1 points per game (81st in NCAA) and gives up 64.3 (59th).
Leaders
Scoring: Bryce Cotton, (19.4 ppg), Kadeem Batts (15.1) and LaDontae Henton (13.2). 
Blocks: Brice Kofane and Sidiki Johnson (0.8 per game).  Close behind are Batts (0.7) and Henton (0.6). 
Steals: Vincent Council (1.5 per game); Kris Dunn and Henton (1.1).
Rebounds: Henton (8.4 per game), Batts (7.4). 
Assists: Council (6.9 per game); 2.6 assist to turnover ratio.
Free throws: Henton (80.2%) and Cotton (78.5%). 
Three-point threats: Cotton (36.5% from beyond the arc) and Josh Fortune (30.2%).

I am pumped to take on Friar Tuck.  We get to teach them that Robin Hood is just a story, not real life.

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Tags: Basketball Charlotte 49ers Charlotte 49ers Men's Basketball NIT Providence Friars