On Thursday, both the Providence Friars and the North Carolina Tar Heels advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Providence scored a last-second bucket to defeat the USC Trojans 70-69 while North Carolina rolled over Florida Gulf Coast 83-67.
Now, the Friars and Tar Heels will meet one another on Saturday night to determine which team will advance to the Sweet 16 in Philadelphia.
No. 9 Providence Friars (24-10) vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (29-6)
When: 9:40 p.m. ET (Saturday)
Where: PNC Arena (Raleigh, NC)
Line: North Carolina -10
Keys for Providence
If Providence is going to pull off the upset, its defense will have to play a major role. Forwards Rodney Bullock and Ben Bentil need to keep the Tar Heels, who rank 13th in the country in rebounding, off the glass and out of the painted area. Kris Dunn, the Friars’ second-leading scorer, has the ability to shoot the ball well from distance and that could open up opportunities in the paint.
Keys for North Carolina
North Carolina has a deep roster that would give any team problems. The Tar Heels have eight players that average at least 15 minutes a game and they're led by forward Brice Johnson. The senior has the ability to score inside while guard Joel Berry II can get hot from three-point range at any time.
Providence has the players and talent with Bullock, Bentil and Dunn to make this an excellent contest, but UNC's depth and length will likely be too much for the Friars to overcome. The Friars don't seem to have a person who can slow down Johnson inside. And just like Florida Gulf Coast discovered on Thursday, that will be a huge problem.
Prediction: North Carolina 81, Providence 70
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.