Men’s Basketball: UConn rides back to NYC for blockbuster matchup with Providence

2/18/2023 MBB vs. Seton Hall by Sofia Sawchuk, Associate Photo Editor UConn men’s basketball defeat Seton Hall 64-55 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn. on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. The Huskies’ Jordan Hawkins and Andre Jackson had impactful performances, with Hawkins picking up 20 points and Jackson scoring a career high of 15 points.

From $2 beers to social media feuds, the rivalry between UConn and Providence men’s basketball has been an incredible showcase to say the least. As both teams prepare to enter a season tie-breaker on one of the premier stages in college basketball, the intense feud between both of these programs has once again risen to new heights. 

Entering this matchup, the Huskies will have a tremendous chip on their shoulder. While the consensus among many Big East fans was that forward Alex Karaban was deserving of the conference’s Freshman of the Year award, voters would choose Villanova newcomer Cam Whitmore instead. However, it doesn’t stop there as far as what can light a fire in the play of UConn on Thursday. 

Fresh off a season of quality defensive play, Andre Jackson was expected to be in play for the conference’s defensive player of the year award, but just like Karaban, he’d lose out on that award to another rival, big man Ryan Kalkbrenner. While both players not winning these awards may sting in the moment, that certainly didn’t stop UConn’s roster of players from backing up Jackson as one of the most important pieces of this roster and someone who the Huskies can’t go without. 

“Dre is the Player of the Year on this team. He’s our MVP,” said Jordan Hawkins. Now, both have the opportunity to showcase their abilities against a program that’s determined to enact their revenge. 

While the beers may not be $2 anymore, the familiar environment at the XL Center or Gampel Pavillion will certainly be in attendance in an area that’s been dubbed “Storrs South” by Husky fans. It’s not only going to be a battle for the players on the court, but also the fans in the stands as two energetic fanbases compete for superiority. Against St. John’s, UConn fans were able to win, but will they be able to do so against the Friars’ band of supporters? That remains to be seen just like the score of this intense matchup.  

While Providence took the first game between these two juggernauts of Big East basketball, the last game between both of these programs at Gampel Pavillion may have been all the energy that Friars coach Ed Cooley needed. It not only was a 87-69 loss for Cooley, but it also resulted in him proclaiming a call to action, an announcement that saw the team go just 1-2 in their next few contests. After a close loss to Xavier in the team’s last home game of the season and a convincing defeat to Seton Hall, Providence won’t be entering this one with the highest momentum, especially compared to a UConn team that’s on a five game winning streak. 

One of the key attributes for both of these teams lies in their rebounding. At Gampel Pavillion, UConn out-rebounded Providence 40-20 on the glass and that helped create an offensive explosion from the Huskies that saw them shoot over 50% from the field and 47% from the 3. If the Huskies are once again able to replicate that Feb. 22 performance while continuing to put on an excellent defensive showcase, they’ll be in great shape at the Garden.  

With both fanbases flocking to the mecca of basketball, it’s bound to not only be one of the matchups of the week, but also one of the best of the college basketball season. Similar to the New York subway, it’s going to be a crazy ride. 

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