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Virginia vs. Providence: The Big Preview

After defeating Iowa, Virginia takes on the Friars for a chance at the Emerald Coast Classic crown.

NCAA Basketball: Vermont at Providence
Hoos face Providence in Emerald Coast Classic finals.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, No. 7 Virginia (5-0) takes on the Providence Friars in the finale of the Emerald Coast Classic. The Hoos dismantled Iowa 74-41 behind 14 points and nine rebounds from Jarred Reuter off the bench. In the late game, Providence defeated Memphis 60-51 to advance.

Providence will be the stiffest test thus far, especially defensively. Although the Friars come into tonight’s game ranked 58th on KenPom (Iowa was 59th), they are 25th in defensive efficiency. They only give up 55.6 points per game, and are 4-1 on the season with their only loss coming against Ohio State (72-67). Against common opponents St. Francis and Grambling State, Providence only gave up 48 and 54 points, respectively (as a reminder, Virginia gave up just 32 and 38).

The Friars are led by two outstanding junior forwards, Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt. Bullock, who is averaging 20.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, scored 18 points last night on 7-for-13 shooting against Memphis to help power Providence to the win. Holt is the only other Friar averaging double digits with 16.5 points and six rebounds per game. In addition to leading the team in points and rebounds per game, Bullock shoots 52.1% from the field and 40.9%, good for second on the team in both

Juniors Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey and sophomore Ryan Fazekas round out the probable starters for the Friars. The trio of guards puts up 20.8 points per game combined, shooting 38%. From the three point arc, Fazekas leads the team shooting 43%. Offensively, the Friars are 109th in KenPom, so they could have some serious issues putting up points on the Wahoos.

For the Hoos, the biggest thing will be shutting down the big men up front. Bullock and Holt are talented and skilled forwards that will be a handful for Wilkins/Reuter/Salt/Diakite down low. This will be a first glimpse for Virginia fans who the Hoos really will be on both sides of the ball without Austin Nichols.

Virginia will be going for their fourth straight early-season tournament after taking the Corpus Christi Challenge, the Barclays Center Classic, and the Charleston Classic in the last three years.

Tipoff is at 7pm on CBS Sports Network.