by Leo Hainline ’22
The Big East Tournament is just around the corner, and the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team is looking to become champions for the first time since 2014. And with their recent form, the Friars have shown they are more than capable of making a deep run. It would be quite an accomplishment as the Big East is notably deep this year, full of talented programs from top to bottom. One of these teams is Seton Hall University, a foe that will unfortunately end up winning the tournament over the Friars.
Indeed, Seton Hall appears to have the regular-season championship and no. 1 seed locked up as they sit at 13-3 in Big East play. However, they do play two tough games this week first against Villanova University and then away at Creighton University. Both of these teams currently sit at 11-5 in the conference and will likely be the two and three seeds, respectively.
If Providence finishes its season with wins in their games vs. Xavier University and DePaul University, they will be at worse the four seed. Xavier, Marquette University, and Butler University are all strong programs that are currently sitting in the projected NCAA tournament field. Georgetown University, St. John’s University, and DePaul, could potentially pull off an upset in an early-round (St. John’s has the energy and home-court advantage to cause a high seed some trouble), but they do not pose much of a threat to win it all.
Seton Hall, though, has arguably the most complete team in the Big East. They have a senior leader in Myles Powell who can get a bucket in the biggest moments and is a player who loves playing in New York City. 7’2’’ Romaro Gill is a tough matchup for anyone. Quincy McKnight, Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, and Jared Rhoden can all knock down shots and fill out the roster nicely. Here and there, Powell has had poor performances, but it is hard to see him having any letdowns at Madison Square Garden. Seton Hall is also having a historically great year for the program – the last time they won the Big East regular season was in 1992-93 under coach PJ Carlesimo. That year, they won the Big East Tournament and won at Villanova for the first time in 25 years.
If the Pirates finish their regular season with momentum from wins over Villanova and Creighton, I think that there is no doubt they have the best shot at winning the Big East Tournament.
by Meaghan Cahill ’20
The 2020 Big East Tournament is fast approaching and, at the moment, it is completely up for grabs. Seton Hall University is arguably the favorite to win the whole tournament, but the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team is currently in a position that could very much challenge that. I predict that they will be victorious in the tournament.
The main reason why PC has a shot at winning the entire tournament is because, compared to the other teams, their momentum has finally kicked in and it is strong enough to carry them throughout the tournament. Coming off of one of the best months of basketball play, PC has won four-straight games, with three of those wins coming against top-ranked teams. According to ESPN, PC is one of only five teams ever to knock off five top 25 teams in a month.
The most recent was their upset win against Big East rival Villanova University, who is ranked third in the Big East, just behind Seton Hall and Creighton University, and 14th in the country. This 58-54 win secured the Friars a first round bye in the tournament. In addition, with the exception of Xavier University, PC has beaten every team in the Big East.
Alongside their momentum, Luwane Pipkins ’20GS has finally found some consistency. Playing what is without a doubt his best play this season pointwise, Pipkins has finished the last four games with 27, 24, 16, and 13 points, respectively. He also shot 71 percent against Georgetown University, 64 percent against Marquette University, and 54 percent against Villanova. Averaging about 20 points per game, the burst in Pipkins play has, without a doubt, transformed a formally dismal season and has given the team life and chance to secure a NCAA tournament bid.
With Pipkins leading the way, other Friars such as Alpha Diallo ’20 and Maliek White ’20 are playing exceptionally well and other teams will have a hard time shutting them down defensively. Diallo scored a remarkable 35 points against no. 1 ranked Seton Hall and White scored 15 points against Villanova.
In addition to players such as Pipkins finding his stride, the Friars’ defense has been a key component to the success that the team is finding. As head coach Ed Cooley said after the team’s upset against Villanova, “We hang our hat on defense.”
The tenacity that the Friars are displaying after their dismal 6-6 start to the season, along with the fact that key players such as Pipkins, Diallo, and White are finding a way to make their presence known on the court and their recent stellar defensive play are all reasons as to why they have the best shot to claiming this year’s Big East title.PCO