Villanova Takes the Title
By Max Anderson ’18
After one of the craziest seasons in recent history for men’s college basketball, it only made sense that the postseason tournament matched the insanity.
The madness kicked off right out of the gate. In the opening two days, title hopefuls Arizona University and Wichita State University were both sent packing. In perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, the University of Maryland Baltimore County Golden Retrievers sent the number one overall seed University of Virginia home early with a final score of 74-54, marking the first time ever a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. In the following two days, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina, Michigan State University, University of Cincinnati, and another No. 1 seed, Xavier University, would bid farewell also. With the losses of North Carolina, Xavier and Cincinnati, the left side of the bracket was without not only the two No. 1 seeds, but also the two No. 2 seeds, marking it the first time ever in NCAA history that this has happened.
While the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight did not have the same madness the opening rounds contained, it did have one massive Cinderella story that captivated the nation in No. 11 seed Loyola University of Chicago. The team, led by their 98-year-old unoffical mascot Sister Jean, won game after game, despite being labeled as the underdog in every matchup. They were able to best Miami and Tennessee in the opening rounds, followed by Nevada and Kansas St. in the later rounds to advance to the Final Four, just the fifth time a double-digit seed has advanced that far. The magic ultimately ran out when the Ramblers ran into John Beilein’s University of Michigan Wolverines, losing by a final tally of 57-69. Despite the Ramblers’ failure to pull it off, they still showed that in March, double-digit seeds can make just as much noise as single-digit seeds.
On the right side of the bracket, order was mostly maintained, with No. 1 seeds Villanova University and University of Kansas advancing to the Final Four. Villanova, on the back of National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson, easily handled Kansas, advancing to their second National Championship game in three years, where they would square off with the Wolverines. In the National Championship game, Michigan contested with the Wildcats early; however, Beilein’s squad had no answer for Donte Divicenzo, who scored a game-high 31 points. Divicenzo’s hot hand, along with Brunson’s leadership, vaulted Villanova to a 79-62 victory, giving the Wildcats their second NCAA title in a three-year span.
As a fan of college basketball, I congratulate Villanova on their NCAA Championship victory; as a Friar, I say great, but look for the Providence Friars to make another strong run for the Big East Championship in 2019.
PCI: The Arizona Wildcats Will Win the NCAA Tournament
by Max Anderson ’18
Saying this college basketball season has been unpredictable and chaotic would be an understatement; the University of Virginia Cavaliers, a team that was not even ranked going into the season, is the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, while five teams that were ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25 poll did not make the tournament all together. Therefore, it should not be surprising that I am choosing a four seed (not one, not two, not three) to win the NCAA Tournament. That team is the University of Arizona Wildcats, a team that I feel has underperformed at times, but also looked dominant at others.
In my opinion (and I feel this opinion is widely shared), Arizona is criminally underrated as a four seed; they have veteran leadership in guards Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins, one of the top head coaches in the country in Sean Miller, and arguably the number one overall pick (and player of the year candidate) in center Deandre Ayton. Arizona can perhaps chalk up their low seed to a disappointing start to the season, which saw the Wildcats lose three straight at the “Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament” and start off with a 3-3 record.
However, perhaps more influential on the Wildcats seeding is the recent scandal regarding Miller. Miller has been accused of offering to pay Ayton $100,000 to attend Arizona. This information is supposedly on wiretaps that the FBI has yet to release.
The scandal has hovered over Arizona for the past month like a dark cloud and resulted in Miller vehemently denying all accusations. With this scandal out of the picture for now, I believe this team is determined to stick it to the NCAA by winning it all.
At the end of the day, I think there are very few teams, if any, that can match Arizona’s talent on the court. Combine that with Miller’s coaching, as well as the fuel of a recent NCAA scandal, and I believe you will not get the Arizona team that dropped three straight games in Atlantis, but rather the Arizona team that went 24-4 in their final 28 games and dominated the Pac-12 Tournament. That team is good enough to beat anybody else in the country and will prove that when they are crowned NCAA Champions.
PCI: Which Spring Sports Team Will Finish with the Best Record?
Men’s Lacrosse will Finish with the Best Record
by Max Anderson ’18
I believe this is the breakout year for the Providence College Men’s Lacrosse Team, which leads me to believe the team will finish as the spring sport squad with the best record.
As a senior, I have watched the lacrosse team progress every year. The 2015 season saw the team have a final overall record of 5-9, with a 1-4 tally in Big East play. The team improved in 2016, finishing with a final record of 7-9 and again finishing with a record of 1-4 in conference play.
It was last year’s fini
sh, however, that has me confident in the lacrosse team this year; the team improved by three wins to finish with a final record of 10-7, including a 3-2 mark in Big East play, making it the first time that the team finished with a winning record since the 2005-06 season. Perhaps most impressive, however, is the fact that the team was able to advance to the Big East Championship game, where they lost by just one point to Marquette in a 10-9 nail biter.
While the 2006-07 team regressed after the superb 2005-06 season, I do not see that being the case with this year’s team. The team lost just 10 players to graduation last year, meaning a large portion of those who finished with a winning record for the first time in over a decade will be back. Among those returning are Brendan Kearns ‘19 and Nick Hatzipetrakos ‘19, the Friars two leading scorers from last year, who both finished the season with over 40 points. Along with Kearns and Hatzipetrakos, the Friars are returning nine of their ten leading point scorers from last season, meaning there will be no shortage of offensive power for the Friars this year. Along with the superb offense, the Friars also bring back goalie Tate Boyce ’19, who started all 17 games for the Friars last season and finished with over 1,000 minutes logged for the year. Boyce finished the season with final tallies of 178 saves to go along with a 56.9 percent save percentage.
With so many returning faces, I can easily see the Friars topping their 10-win mark from last year and picture them being the most successful team on campus this spring.
PCI: Best Sports Moment of 2017
Kyrie Irving to Celtics
By Max Anderson ’18
I am going to take a different route than most would and say that the best sports moment of 2017 was when Danny Ainge crafted a trade that shipped star point guard Kyrie Irving up to Boston.
The trade was originally agreed upon on Aug. 22 of last year.The original details of the trade stated that the Celtics would send Boston icon Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the unprotected 2018 first round pick of the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Irving.
However, after Thomas failed a physical upon arrival in Cleveland, the Cavaliers demanded more compensation, even though the Celtics stated they had been upfront with the Cavs about the severity of Thomas’s injury. Eight days later, on Aug. 30, the Celtics agreed to add a second-round pack in the 2020 draft, and the trade was finalized.
This was the best sports moment of 2017, not only because it sent shockwaves throughout the entire sports world-nobody thought the Cavs would have traded Irving, especially not to a rival like the Celtics- but also because it improved the competition of the NBA.
Before this trade, fans and executives alike were already penciling in a fourth straight Warriors-Cavs Finals matchup. However, shortly after this trade, people soon began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the new-look Celtics could potentially upend the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Cavaliers.
Flash forward to the beginning of 2018 and not only are the Celtics atop in the Eastern Conference with a 34-11 record, but they are 7.5 games ahead of the Cavaliers, who currently sit in fourth place.
This trade has not only benefitted the Boston Celtics but the entire Eastern Conference alike and will give all teams a fair shot at the Eastern Conference crown, potentially sparing sports fans from watching the same finals matchup witnessed the past three years.
PCI: College Athletes Should be Expected to Stay More Than One Year
by Max Anderson ’18
I believe that athletes, when faced with the decision to enroll at a college or university, or turn pro, should be given a choice: either enter professional sports right out of high school, or complete a minimum of two years at college. I believe this rule change makes the most sense for athletes.
One of the biggest issues facing sports today is whether professional sports leagues are holding athletes back by forcing them to attend college. Many high school athletes, whether they play basketball, baseball, football, hockey, soccer, or any other sport, come from tough backgrounds, and want to make money as quickly as possible to help their families.
Others feel that college simply will not benefit them in any way, and feel that they are ready to take the next step now rather than later. If a high school athlete falls into either of these categories, who are we to restrict them from turning professional now?
However, if a high school student feels that they would like to attend college and receive an education, they should be required to complete a minimum of two years at the collegiate level. This way, the student can receive four semesters (or quarters depending on where they attend) worth of education, which can at least benefit them if their professional sports career does not work out.
The main reason that leagues such as the NFL and MLB requires athletes to stay a minimum of three years in college before turning pro is so that these students can receive three years’ worth of education to help them later in life. However, that third year may be holding athletes back, as many may be ready to turn professional after two years, but are unable to do so thanks to these rules and limitations. With this new rule, I believe athletes can not only receive a proper education, but also turn professional if they feel they are ready.
Basketball Team Wins 2K Classic
By Max Anderson ’18
On Friday, November 17, the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team was able to add another piece of hardware to the trophy cabinet by winning the 2K Classic Tournament, held annually at Madison Square Garden.
The tournament kicked off with a preliminary regional round matchup on Nov. 10, which saw the Friars square off with Houston Baptist University; the winner would advance to the Championship rounds of the tournament. The contest, which was also the season opener for the Friars, turned out to be a one-sided affair, as the Friars would end up winning by a final score of 84-55.
The game saw 11 different Friars score, with Maliek White ’20 leading the way with 13 points. Isaiah Jackson ’19 and Kalif Young ’20 were also big contributors, with Jackson scoring 11 points and Young contributing 10 of his own. Kyron Cartwright ’18 also reached double-digits in points, scoring 10 while also recording 10 assists to be the only Friar to achieve a double-double during the contest.
Nearly a week later, the Friars headed to New York City to take on the Univserity of Washington Huskies in the first game of the championship round. The Friars were able to hang on in a tightly-contested game, winning by a final score of 77-70 to advance to the championship game the following night. Rodney Bullock ‘18 was the star for the Friars in this one, shooting 5-11 from the field, and finishing with 17 points.
Bullock also pulled down nine rebounds, making him one rebound shy of recording the second Friar double-double of the tournament. Young and Cartwright were key cogs once again, with the former adding 12 points and the latter once again chipping in 10 of his own. The talented youth of the Friars was also on display, as Alpha Diallo ’20 and Drew Edwards ’20 both achieved double-digit point marks, with both players contributing 11 points.
The championship game proved much less competitive, with the Friars routing the previously unbeaten St. Louis Billikens 90-63 to capture the 2K Classic crown. Bullock once again led the Friars with 15 points, while Diallo and White both added 11 to the Friars 90 as well.
Cartwright, once again, showed why he is considered one of the top distributors in all of college basketball by dishing out eight assists, and seemingly finding his teammates for open shots at will. But the most impressive Friar on the floor may have very well been heralded freshman Makai Ashton-Langford ‘21. Ashton-Langford, a consensus top recruit who committed to PC this past April, went a perfect 5-5 from the floor during the game, finishing with 11 points for the Friars. Ashton-Langford also showcased his own playmaking abilities, adding three assists while also recording a steal.
The Friars played a post-tournament game at home this past Wednesday, Novemeber 22, taking on the Belmont Bruins at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The game came down to the final seconds, with Cartwright nailing a game-winning three-pointer to give the Friars a 66-65 victory at the buzzer and an unblemished 4-0 mark in the 2K Classic. Bullock and Diallo obtained double-digit points as well, scoring 15 and 13 respectively, while Jalen Lindsey ’18 also had 12, which put him in the double-digit margin.
The 2K Classic Crown is a first for the Friars, and while it is always nice to celebrate new championship hardware, the Friars have their sights set on adding a much bigger trophy to their collection this upcoming March.