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No. 4 Providence vs. No. 13 South Dakota State: Preview, picks for first round of 2022 NCAA Tournament

The Providence Friars and South Dakota State Jackrabbits meet in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

Providence Friars guard Jared Bynum (4) celebrates after defeating the Butler Bulldogs 65-61 in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Providence Friars won their first Big East regular season title after more than four decades in the league in 2022, but the selection committee did them no favors pairing them against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The teams will meet at KeyBank Arena in Buffalo, NY, at 12:40 p.m. ET, with the proceedings broadcast on TruTV.

No. 4 Providence: 25-5 (14-3 Big East): At-Large

KenPom rating: 32 Overall, 80 Offense, 50 Defense
NET ranking: 32, (5-3 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Nate Watson, 13.8 ppg
Key stat: PC was the luckiest team in college basketball this year according to KenPom.

How good the Friars are has been the subject of debate all season long, with the computers disliking them much more than their raw record would normally indicate. But what PC does is drive and force teams to defend them off the bounce; they’re 12th in the country in free throws attempted per field goal attempted.

No. 13 South Dakota State: 30-4 (18-0 Summit): Auto Bid

KenPom rating: 69 Overall, 11 Offense, 223 Defense
NET ranking: 65 (0-2 Vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Baylor Scheierman, 16.2 ppg
Key stat: SDSU is No. 1 in the nation in three-point shooting at 44.2%.

If you want entertaining basketball, do not miss the Jackrabbits. They start shooting before they leave the hotel, and basically don’t stop until the final horn. They’re an absolute sieve defensively, but when you’re pulling up from the timeline at will it makes up for plenty of deficiencies.

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Providence -2
Point total: 147.5
Moneyline: PC -135, SDSU +115

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: SDSU +2
Point total pick: Over 147.5
Pick to Win: SDSU

The Friars haven’t seen anything like what they’ll be up against on Thursday, and they just can’t be simulated in practice. While the over seems like sharp bet here, look for whomever can control the pace to have the advantage.