Providence to Host 2021 March Madness
by Jeff Williams ’17
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team comes off yet another successful season for head coach Ed Cooley and his Friars. After losing Kris Dunn ’16 and Ben Bentil ’18 to the National Basketball Association, the Friar men entered the season with very low expectations, being picked to finish ninth in the Big East. However, the team exceeded expectations, making a great late season run to finish 20-13 (10-8 Big East). Kyron Cartwright ’18 and Rodney Bullock ’18 were named to the Second Team All-Big East while Cartwright earned the conference’s Most Improved Player—the third Friar to win the award in Cooley’s six years in Friartown. While the team suffered a devastating opening round loss to the Univeristy of Southern California Trojans, the 2016-2017 campaign marked the fourth year in a row that PC made the NCAA tournament.
The Friars will have the opportunity to build on last year’s performance, returning their entire starting lineup and bringing in a stellar recruiting class ranked 13th by Scout.com, 14th by Rivals.com, 15th by 247Sports.com, and 29th by ESPN.com. Dajour Dickens, who hails from Hampton, Virginia and plays for Bethel High, committed last February. The seven-footer chose PC over the likes of Virginia and Creighton. Nate Watson from Arlington, Virginia (Bishop O’Connell) was the next domino to fall on Sept. 10. The 6’9” center is a consensus four-star prospect and chose the Friars over Maryland and Miami. Cooley’s major haul will be Makai Ashton-Langford, the consensus Top 100 prospect who decommitted from the Connecticut Huskies in March and chose to sign with Providence on April 10 after visiting during Accepted Students Weekend. The Worcester, Massachusettes (Brewster Academy) point guard and his new classmates will be invaluable pieces for the next four years.
On April 18, it was announced that Providence College and the Dunkin’ Donuts Center would be hosting first and second round games at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament once again, this time on March 18 and 20, 2021. This will be the 12th time that Providence has been a destination for postseason play, after previously being the site for games in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1989, 1996, 2010, and 2016. PC Athletics Director Bob Driscoll told Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, “We have established a rich tradition of hosting highly successful NCAA events in the City of Providence, and we look forward to serving as host once again. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is one of the most prestigious and exciting events in all of sports. Hosting this event opens the door to showcase our great city, top-notch staff, and venue.”
The Dunk most recently hosted the tournament last year in what proved to be a great weekend of basketball. All six games on Thursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19 were quickly sold out. The Thursday games included two major upsets—the Yale Bulldogs over the Baylor Bears, and the Wichita State Shockers over the Arizona Wildcats. In the second round games on Saturday, two Sweet Sixteen berths were at stake. The Miami Hurricanes, coached by Jim Larrañaga ’71, held off the Shockers, 65-57, while Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils ended Yale’s hopes of a fairytale run, 71-64. The success of last year’s tournament in Providence made it a no brainer for the city and the NCAA to set another date for basketball in the Dunk for March Madness.
With the return of a starting lineup headed by Cartwright, Bullock, Jalen Lindsey ’18, and Emmitt Holt ’18, the addition of a studded recruiting class, and the ongoing construction of the Ruane Friar Development Center, PC Men’s Basketball should have a sterling outlook going into the 2017-2018 school year.