By Jack Belanger ’21
One thing that has become clear this year in college basketball is that there is no team that is the clear-cut favorite to win the NCAA tournament come March. No team was able to make it to January undefeated. While Villanova University is currently ranked first in the country, their loss to Butler University shows how tough the Big East is and how challenging it will be for them to finish the season without another loss. Preseason favorite Duke University lost two games to unranked Boston College and North Carolina State University and needed a miracle comeback to beat the University of Miami. The Universities of Virginia and Oklahoma were both unranked coming into the year and have slowly made their way into the top-10 ranking (they are ranked second and fourth respectively).
Now how does Providence College fit into all of this? The Friars were picked to finish fourth in the Big East, behind Villanova, Xavier College, and Seton Hall University. After starting 6-1, it looked at though PC was on the verge of cracking the Associated-Press Top 25 teams, but then the Friars suffered through a 2-3 stretch that included a bad loss to University of Massachusets-Amherst, an overtime win against an average Brown University team, and a 2-point win over a poor Stony Brook College squad. With a record of 9-4 heading into Big East play, many were left questioning how PC would handle a tough Big East schedule.
So far in Big East play, PC is 4-2 with wins over Xavier, who was ranked fifth, and Butler, who beat Villanova. That’s the good side of PC’s unpredictability. The bad side is the 19-point loss to Creighton University and an overtime loss to a Marquette team where the Friars let a 6-point lead with a minute to go slip away from them. For this team to have a chance to make the NCAA tournament, PC needs to get at least a combination of two wins over Villanova, Creighton, Seton Hall and Xavier and avoid any bad losses to St. John’s University, DePaul University or Georgetown University.
It is too early to tell how PC will finish their season. The Friars had an outside chance of making the tournament last year until they tallied off six straight wins to finish the regular season. With 12 games left in the season, PC still has plenty of work to do.
· After only scoring 10 or more points twice in his first 10 games, Isaiah Jackson ’19 has reached double-digit figures six times in his last nine games
· During PC’s 3-game streak, the Friars have held opponents to an average of 65.33 points after allowing 95 points in a loss to Marquette
· In the Friars’ six losses this season guard Jalen Lindsey ’18 shoots 44.4 percent from the 3-point line but in the 12 wins he has played in, he brings that number up to 49.3 percent.