Providence College Investigates: NCAA
Who Will Win March Madness?
Leo Hainline ’22
On Monday, April 4, the Providence College Friars will be the team cutting down the net in New Orleans.
This team is the toughest in the nation. Defensively, the Friars are elite and have a standout player in Justin Minaya ’22GS who can guard all five positions. His ability to stifle the opposition’s best offensive threat combined with his relentless rebounding on both the offensive and defensive ends makes him indispensable to this Friars team. He sets the tone with his energy and is a player any coach would love to have.
The Friars are well-balanced offensively. Four members of the starting five, and Big East Sixth Man of the Year Jared Bynum ’23, are all threats from beyond the arch. Nate Watson ’22GS and Ed Croswell ’23 are dominant big men who can change the game through merely their presence on the court. They are a tough team to guard given each player has the ability to rise to the occasion and get themselves a bucket.
Additionally, whenever one Friar is struggling, another steps up and helps lead the team to victory. Each player is unfazed by big moments yet knows their individual roles, making the right plays at the right moment. The unselfish yet assertive dynamic on the offensive end, especially in close games, is a key reason why PC will prevail in this tournament.
Coach Cooley has also done a phenomenal job leading this team both on and off the court. His preparations and in-game decisions have been a massive factor in the Friars’ success and he deserves to be named Coach of the Year. The Big East is arguably the most competitive conference in the nation and winning the Regular Season Championship is a significant accomplishment. Players are the ones who ultimately decide games, but Cooley’s ability to prepare his men and to manage any situation on the sidelines gives the Friars an edge over their opponents.
Among all else, this Friars team never gets rattled. They are mature and remain calm in adversity. Numerous times this season, most notably at Hickle Fieldhouse playing Butler University when the Friars faced a 19-point second-half deficit, they battled their way from behind to win. Their energy and communication with each other are arguably the best in college basketball. PC emulates what true teamwork entails and their composure under pressure has been and will continue to be a driving force of their success.
The energy surrounding this team is unmatched. No student body and administration are more collectively passionate about their basketball program. The players and fans are eager to prove doubters wrong. PC has a chip on our shoulders and is eager to continue this statement season. The support from the Providence College community will only further elevate this team towards a national title.
God bless, go Friars.
Stephen Foster ’22
When I look at the group of teams assembled this year in Division I Men’s College Basketball, I see a lot of teams with talented interior and exterior offense and defense. However, one team stands out from the rest: Gonzaga University, the 2021 March Madness Runner-Up.
The Bulldogs are the favorite to win it all this year, and for good reason. According to ESPN, Gonzaga is in the top ten for both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. They finished the regular season as the No. 1 team in the nation after a strong late season push. In the first four hours after the 2022 tournament bracket was determined, 34.5 percent of brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge picked Gonzaga to win it all.
Gonzaga has an overall record of 26-3 and a West Coast Conference record of 13-1 this season. They have only lost to No. 2 seed Duke University (28-6 overall, No. 1 in Atlantic Coast Conference), No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s College (25-7 overall, lost to Gonzaga in WCC Tournament), and No. 6 seed University of Alabama (19-13 overall).They are led by two strong candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, which is awarded to college basketball’s most outstanding player.
Drew Timme ’23 is a 6’10” forward for the Bulldogs who averaged 17.5 PPG (points per game) and 6.3 RPG (rebounds per game). Timme picked up the West Coast Conference’s player of the year award this season. Chet Holmgren ’25 rises up at 7’1” and is another inside force for Gonzaga. The center leads the interior defense for the team with 9.6 RPG and 3.4 BPG, as well as contributing extensively on offense with 14.2 PPG and shooting 41.3 percent from three-point land (3PT). He won the defensive player of the year award and is projected to lead the NBA draft class next year.
The Bulldogs starting lineup as a whole is a force to be reckoned with, as all five starters average double-digit scoring. In addition, four out of five starters shoot over 36.5 percent on three-point attempts. These players include Holmgren, Julian Strawther ’24 (12.2 PPG, 39.6% 3PT), Andrew Nembhard ’22 (11.7 PPG, 36.5% 3PT, 5.7 assists per game), and sharpshooter Rasir Bolton ’22 (11.2 PPG, 46.7% 3PT).
Although the path to the March Madness Finals is undoubtedly challenging, Gonzaga University will have the best chances to reach the end. They have a unique combination of offensive and defensive talent that prevents them from lacking in any area of the game. Gonzaga has reached the national title game in two of the past four NCAA tournaments. This year will make that three of five, with a national championship to go along with it.
Should Steroid Users Be in the Baseball HOF?
Providence College Investigates
By Will Murphy ’23
The Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced the inductees for 2022, but unfortunately, those who were not chosen to be inducted have been more of a story than those who have been.
While some of baseball’s biggest stars over the past 20 years had the honor of being inducted, such as former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, others did not hear their names called in their last year eligible to appear on the ballot.
As it stands, to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it is required to have at least 75 percent of the votes. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa all had legendary careers playing Major League Baseball. Bonds was in the league from 1986-2007, Clemens played from 1984-2007, and Sosa played in 18 seasons from 1989-2005, but each was unable to reach the 75 percent threshold necessary for induction.
The reasoning behind many of voters’ exclusion of these stars was steroid use, whether it was proven or alleged. It is not necessarily in the best interest of baseball to keep the players who may or may not have used steroids from making the Baseball Hall of Fame. The stated mission of the Baseball Hall of Fame is to tell the story of baseball to its audience.
By leaving out stars such as Bonds and Clemens, an important part of baseball’s story is being excluded. Many players during the steroid era changed the game for the better throughout their remarkable careers which shaped the way baseball is played today. This era was a period of time when it was believed a number of players were using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) from the late 1980s to the late 2000s. Testing for PEDs in the MLB did not begin until 2003.
It is impossible to accurately tell the story of baseball while leaving out memorable events such as “The Great Home Run Race of 1998” between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Although both players are alleged steroid users, Sosa has denied the use of steroids while McGwire has admitted to steroid use. These players’ home run race in 1998 brought many new fans to baseball.
Leaving out events and players as monumental as these from the Hall of Fame seriously damages the stated goal: tell baseball’s story.
Another reason against leaving alleged steroid users out of the Baseball Hall of Fame is poor consistency. It sends the wrong message to allow some rumored steroid users into the Hall of Fame, but holds others out for the sole reason that they were rumored to have used steroids.
By Margaret Maloney ’23
There are three reasons why steroid users should not be allowed in the MLB Hall of Fame. One: holding these players accountable upholds morality in that it does not reward those who cheated during their careers. Two: although steroids became relatively common in the MLB, their prevalence in the league should not condone their use. Three: accepting steroid users into the Hall of Fame would marginalize the accomplishments of clean players.
Current talk surrounding steroid users entering the Hall of Fame has increased lately due to the most recent slate of nominees, including David Ortiz, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens. Ortiz received 77.9 percent of the votes and was inducted into Cooperstown, while Bonds (66 percent of the votes) and Clemens (65.2 percent of the votes) failed to be admitted into the Hall of Fame due to their steroid use. This was the last time Bonds and Clemens will be eligible for the ballot.
Bonds is arguably one of the greatest players of all time, hitting the most home runs at 762. Due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs, he is not in the MLB Hall of Fame, which is the correct outcome. Although his greatness cannot be overlooked, leaving him out of Cooperstown upholds the ethical standards of the Hall of Fame and maintains the honor for those who played baseball clean throughout their careers.
Clemens is another baseball great and arguably one of the best pitchers the league has ever seen, owing to his nickname “Rocket.” Like Bonds, he was not inducted into the Hall of Fame due to steroid usage. Again, this outcome maintains baseball’s moral responsibility to only induct those who did not seek to gain an unfair advantage on the diamond.
The Hall of Fame should be kept as an institution that honors the greatest players in MLB history but also must leave this recognition for those who achieved their success the right way. Ortiz is an example of such a player, being one of the league’s most feared hitters who turned the Boston Red Sox into a World-Series-winning team. He is an essential spokesperson for the franchise and is admired for his contributions on-and-off the field.
Reflecting upon this most recent Hall of Fame ballot, the voters made the correct decision in ultimately not inducting Bonds and Clemens into Cooperstown.
Who Will Win 2021/22 NBA MVP?
Providence College Investigates
Will Murphy ‘23
Ja Morant has begun this season with the Memphis Grizzlies scorching hot. Morant appears poised to lead the Grizzlies on a playoff run, thanks to the considerable improvements that have been evident in all aspects of his game. The three-point shot, once a hole in Morant’s game, has developed into an asset. He now makes almost two three-pointers per game on five attempts, shooting around 35 percent. Morant is even more dangerous off the bounce because defenders must respect his jumper. One crucial characteristic of an MVP is their ability to improve the play of their teammates, an area in which Morant excels. He consistently blows by his primary defender and forces the defense to collapse on him in the paint, and his vision allows him to kick the ball out to wide-open shooters at the three-point line. Morant is top ten in assists in the league, something that has been invaluable for a Grizzlies squad with many capable shooters who are comfortable spotting up and awaiting a dime from Morant.
Morant is also fearless when attacking the rim, willing to climb the ladder against rim protectors even when he’s often almost an entire foot shorter. This willingness to slash to the basket leads to countless momentum-swinging dunks that often end up as highlights on SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays. His scoring has also seen an impressive jump from 19 points per game last year to almost 27 this year, which is good for fifth in the league. What’s more is that he has been able to boost his scoring volume rather efficiently, shooting just a shade under 49 percent from the field, which is extremely impressive for a lead guard tasked with being his team’s primary shot creator.
Morant is also one of the best rebounding guards in the league, bringing down six per game. A point guard’s ability to grab rebounds is an asset for a team, allowing them to push the ball up the court quickly before the defense gets set without needing an outlet pass from a center to a guard. MVPs are not only difference-makers on offense, but impactful defenders. At point guard, he guards the opponent’s elite playmakers. His elite lateral quickness allows him to stay in front of even the shiftiest guards. He also has a knack for timing steals perfectly, in the league’s top 15 in steals per game at just under two. Morant will likely be the best player on the court each game this year, but even in games when he’s not, he will be the most valuable to his team, which is why Morant will take home the 2021-2022 MVP award.
Leo Hainline ’22
Right now, there is no better basketball player in the world than Stephen Curry. The Warriors star has led his team to a league-best 11-2 record without fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson and the team’s raw but talented center James Wiseman. No signs suggest that Curry will slow down this season and he has established himself as the rightful favorite to win the NBA’s 2021-2022 MVP award.
Curry is second in the league in points-per-game average at 28.1, trailing only Kevin Durant, who is providing 6.7 assists, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.2 made 3’s a contest. These statistics are on pace to surpass his 2014-2015 MVP campaign numbers and are similar to his 2015-2016 statistics, a season in which he led the Warriors to a record-breaking 73-9 regular season record while recording 30.1 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.4 rebounds a game. Despite posting similar individual numbers last season, Curry finished third in MVP voting behind winner Nikola Jokic and runner-up Joel Embiid. The main factor preventing Curry from winning his third MVP this past season was the Warriors 39-33 record and failure to make the playoffs. Judging from the first month of the season, this year is a different story for Golden State.
The Warriors have a legitimate chance to grab for the one-seed in the competitive Western Conference, an achievement that would undoubtedly reward Curry with this third MVP trophy. What would make this feat even more remarkable is the fact that without Curry, the Warriors would probably be a sub-50 team. There is no single player who contributes more to his team’s success.
What further helps Curry’s case is that he has already broken NBA records this season. At only 33 years old, he has broken Ray Allen’s record for most three-pointers made in the history of the NBA. Do not be surprised if Curry continues to set and break records this season, adding to his resume and making him the clear choice for NBA MVP. Furthermore, Curry is the type of player who people enjoy watching and adds to the game of basketball. His shooting and general offensive skill is objectively fun to watch, and Curry is one of the most likable athletes in the world. This will only help his case for winning the prestigious award.
Curry’s play this season has been literally the most valuable out of any player in the league. Continued production out of the Warriors’ point guard will seal his position as the award’s frontrunner, and he will walk away from the 2021-2022 season with his third, and likely not final, MVP trophy.
Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?
Providence College Investigates: MLB
Justin Bishop ’24
San Francisco Giants
The best team in Major League Baseball is, without a doubt, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants were the best team in the regular season, which concluded this past Sunday with a dominant record of 107 – 55. The Giants’ +210 run differential is second in the league to their rival division opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a +269 differential. Finishing second in the league in Team Earned Run Average (ERA) 3.24 and Team Home Runs (HR) 241, it is clear that the San Francisco pitching staff is more than capable of handling its own and that the players can hit the long ball with ease. Throughout the second half of the year, the team put together winning streaks of 6+ four times, and their longest losing streak was four and only occurred once. Being able to string along winning streaks of that stature is a necessity in the postseason, and avoiding losing streaks is equally important.
Sitting at (+450) odds to win it all, the Giants are the second in betting favorite, just behind the Dodgers at (+350), according to oddshark.com. San Francisco has no “star player” who carries the team; instead, they rely on the entire team to produce. One could raise the argument that shortstop Brandon Crawford is the “star player,” seeing that he leads the team in every offensive category other than home runs, and he is still third on that list. Brandon Belt leads the team with 29 HR and nine other players have 10+ HR, which ties none other than the Dodgers for most players with 10+ HR. Having this type of offensive production out of so many players is key to having prolonged success in the playoffs.
However, one cannot only rely on offense. Even though putting up almost five runs per game is key, pitching and fielding are also aspects of the game San Francisco have down. The team has seven pitchers on the team that have 50+ innings pitched with an ERA less than 3.00. The pitching staff holds opponents to batting a measly 0.229 average, and only allowing three runs per game will stifle almost any opposing offense. The Giants are clean and efficient in fielding, ranking second amongst playoff teams in fielding percentage. Specifically, outfielder Mike Yastrzemski ranks third in the league in fielding percentage as an outfielder, and Brandon Crawford ranks fourth amongst shortstops in the league in the same category.
Statistics are all great measurements of where a team ranks and how much they produce compared to the rest of the league; however, the only statistic that matters is how many games they win. The San Francisco Giants are the winningest team in baseball, and they will carry that momentum into the National League Division Series and eventually through to the World Series. They will take on the winner of the Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Stephen Foster ’22
Los Angeles Dodgers
When looking at the group of talented teams assembled this year in the Major League Baseball playoffs, there are several with superior pitching, hitting, and defense. However, one team stands out from the rest: the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 2020 World Series Champions.
The Dodgers started the 2021 season as the favorite to go back-to-back and win it all again. Since then, their President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, has improved the team even further, making several significant moves at the trade deadline. They added starting pitcher Max Scherzer (15 Wins, 2.46 Earned Run Average) and middle infielder Trea Turner (27 Home Runs, 32 Steals, .328 Batting Average) from the Washington Nationals. Both have formed an integral part of the Dodgers’ success down the stretch. Having starting pitchers who go deep into games and keep runs off the board is essential for winning playoff games.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the MLB in earned run average and earned runs allowed with a 3.02 ERA and 486 earned runs, allowing a significant 38 runs fewer than the next best team. This feat is primarily achieved by the work of their outstanding starting rotation, which is arguably the best in the league. Led by Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler (15 W, 2.49 ERA), Julio Urias (20 W, 2.96 ERA), and Clayton Kershaw (10 W, 3.55 ERA), the Dodgers’ pitching rotation strikes fear into the eyes of any hitter. Furthermore, their bullpen led by Kenley Jansen (2.22 ERA in 69 games, 38 Saves) and Blake Treinen (1.99 ERA in 72 games) is equally as strong as their starting pitching. The Dodgers are ready to ride the arms of their aces all the way to The Commissioner’s Trophy. If that is not enough, their lineup is stacked with power hitters and players who excel at getting on base. The Dodgers are fourth in both home runs and on base percentage in the MLB with 237 HR and a .330 OBP.
Moreover, Los Angeles is a team known for sparing no amount of money in order to get to the World Series. Their monetary flexibility allows them to go big on many players that other small market teams cannot afford to sign. They lead the MLB with the highest payroll in 2021, which is an astounding $194,839,000. Their ability to sign the best players in the league is a huge advantage that will pay off in the postseason. Small market teams can only hope to compete with the prowess of the 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers. Their financial ability combined with their spot near the top of almost every statistics category will bode well for the Dodgers. At the end of the MLB postseason, The Commissioner’s Trophy will once again find its way to Los Angeles.
Providence College Investigates: Pro Sports
What Is the Best Sports City in the United States?
Justin Bishop ’24
Everyone knows which city is the greatest sports city in the world: Boston. This city is known for countless championships in hockey, basketball, football, and most recently, baseball.
In combinations ranging from red, white, and blue to black and gold to green and white, these colors represent everything to the people of this city.
Boston is the greatest sports city in the world and that is a fact. The Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox organizations represent greatness and what it means to win. Since 2000, Boston has won 12 championship trophies and has been the only city to have a championship trophy in all four major sports (baseball, basketball, football, hockey).
The New England Revolution, who recently have been on a tear in the MLS are among the teams not in the spotlight in Boston as much as the four major sports teams.
Other notable teams outside the four major sports in Boston include: the Boston Pride in the National Women’s Hockey League and the Boston Cannons, the only Major League Lacrosse team to be added to the new Premier Lacrosse League.
The Red Sox are the only team in the MLB to win four World Series in the new millennia. The Sox are a trivial part of the city of Boston. Fenway Park, the Curse of the Great Bambino, Ted Williams, 1999 All Star Game, 2004 World Series Champions, and the 2013 World Series Champions for the Boston Marathon victims are all moments that carry gravity with the people who cheer for the Red Sox and Boston as a city.
On the ice, the Bruins are a powerhouse, not just in the Atlantic Division or Eastern Conference, but also throughout the entire NHL. The B’s have reached the postseason in 16 of the past 19 seasons. They have long tenured superstars like Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and the captain himself, Patrice Bergeron, who have all had sensational seasons in recent memory.
On the court, the Celtics have been up and down since their NBA championship in 2008 but seem to have rebounded with young stars like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. The Celtics have proven themselves in the playoffs over the past 10 years and with young stars on the rise, seem set for another run of dominance.
Tearing it up on the gridiron, the New England Patriots won six Super Bowl titles in 20 years. With the unstoppable tandem of Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach and general manager Bill Belicheck, the Pats could not be stopped for 20 years. The Patriots were a dynasty from 2000 to 2019, winning six Super Bowls, nine AFC Championships, 17 AFC East Division titles, and 17 straight playoff appearances.
This is the definition of winning. This is the way, the Boston way.
Luke Sweeney ’24
The unprecedented success of the New England Patriots during the 2000s and 2010s has shut down the debate over which U.S. city is the sports capital of the country. To many, Boston is the undisputed city of champions and the most dominant city in the United States for professional sports. However, another city might be overlooked, a city with a rich history of success in sports, and the home to some of the best athletes the world has ever seen: Los Angeles.
The L.A. Lakers are considered by many to be the best basketball team of all time. While the Boston Celtics hold the crown for most NBA Championships, no other team has won more playoff games than the Lakers organization. The Lakers have had the privilege of producing elite hall of famers such as Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, the late Kobe Bryant, and now Lebron James. It is no surprise that the best players in the NBA are attracted to the city of L.A. and their premier basketball club.
Having such a strong market for sports and an almost overwhelming population density, it is surprising that L.A. has gone so many years without an NFL team. The city was home to the original Los Angeles Rams from 1942-1994. During that period they had limited success, making the Super Bowl only once and never taking home the Lombardi Trophy. It was not until the team moved to St. Louis that they won a Super Bowl during the 2000 NFL season with a high-powered offense that was labeled “The Greatest Show on Turf” under quarterback Kurt Warner. Football is currently back in Los Angeles as they are home to the Rams once again and the Chargers.
Baseball has been praised in the city of L.A. since the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to California in 1958. The Dodgers immediately found success in L.A. by winning the 1959 World Series and continued to impress the baseball world into the ‘60s. The pitching tandem of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale gave the Dodgers what they needed for an additional two championships in 1963 and 1965. L.A. was also home to pitching phenom Fernando Valenzuela, who was beloved by fans and led the club to another championship in 1988. They have won multiple World Series since the ‘80s and continue to be dominant today.
While Boston is home to the greatest football player to ever live, and the NBA team with the most championships of all time, it is impossible to exclude Los Angeles from the conversation of the “Greatest Sports City in The United States.”
PCI: Who Will Win the NFL MVP this Season?
Providence College Investigates: NFL
Joseph Quirk ’23
Josh Allen will be the National Football League’s “Most Valuable Player” this season.
To win the NFL MVP, you must have three things: a top three-seeded team, consistent MVP-level play throughout the season, and a lot of luck. While it is hard to predict luck (the primary reason most MVP predictions pre-Week 6 are usually wrong), we can certainly predict the other two things to some extent.
Heading into Week 1 this weekend, Allen will have both. Starting with the first thing necessary, a top three-seeded team (or, at least, a playoff caliber team), the Buffalo Bills should easily be one of the best teams in AFC this season.
Although they do play in a tough division, neither the New England Patriots nor the Miami Dolphins should cause problems for the Bills as they have arguably one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league.
The Bills’ defense is one of the best in the league, with defensive-minded head coach Sean McDermott’s leadership, an elite secondary, ball-hawking linebackers, and a versatile defensive line.
On offense they boast a solid offensive line, a couple of strong running backs, as well as several skilled wideouts and tight ends for Allen to throw to. That’s not to mention their top special teams’ units.
Now, onto the second thing Allen needs: a consistent MVP-level season.
Allen had a breakout year, which led him to be considered for the award last season. He has all the physical tools necessary to play at an MVP level: a big body to fend off opponents and keep him durable, speed to maintain a fast-paced game, and a cannon of an arm.
Last year, he managed to improve upon weaknesses in his passing accuracy. Add in the arrival of star wideout Stefon Diggs last season to make some plays, and Allen had his best statistical season yet.
Factor in his physical capabilities, history of good health, yearly progression, and history of putting up huge numbers, and there isn’t a reason why Allen can’t throw for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns. And if the Bills play as well as everyone anticipates, it will be difficult to find another worthy recipient of the award.
There is a third aspect to winning MVP, and that’s luck. No one can predict it.
Anyone can get hurt or outplayed in any given season, which is what makes this sport so exciting.
Although we can’t predict how luck will treat him this season, looking on paper before kickoff indicates that Josh Allen is a good, healthy bet.
Luke Sweeney ’24
The 2021 NFL Season kicked off last Thursday night in exciting style with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus the Dallas Cowboys. The usual playmakers of each team were healthy and made highlights on each side of the ball in a high-scoring game that came down to the last few minutes.
Dak Prescott made an impressive return from his injuries last season by throwing 42 out of 58 completed passes for 403 yards, but ended up falling short of a win in the fourth quarter. Of course, the Buccaneers’ quarterback, Tom Brady, stepped up when he needed to by playing at an elite level in the season opener.
While Sunday’s Week 1 slate of games was full of great quarterback performances around the league such as Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, and Patrick Mahomes, nobody looked sharper and more confident than Tom Brady on Thursday Night.
It has been said year after year, but Brady continues to show that he can compete at the highest level well into his 40s. Because of excellent pocket presence and quick, efficient decision-making, Brady is looking like the current MVP frontrunner after Week 1.
Brady threw for 379 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys and proved that he has not lost a single step over the offseason. The final minutes of the game were set up in a way that Brady had seen a thousand times before. The Buccaneers were down one point with 1:24 to go in the game. This achievement is basically free for Brady, and everyone watching knew it. He waltzed down the field as he always does and set up an easy kick for Tampa to seal the victory.
Dallas played an outstanding game the whole way through, and Prescott may have played an even better game than Brady, but the bottom line is that no one knows how to win the way he does. In big moments when he needs to produce results, he always gets it done.
Brady and the Buccaneers still have some room for improvement if they hope to repeat what they did last year. Brady threw two interceptions against Dallas, giving them an opportunity to win the ball game at certain points. But none of that mattered after a game-winning drive snuffed out any doubt.
As always, Brady was able to spread the ball and get many different playmakers involved in the win. He threw touchdowns to Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and twice to fellow former Patriot Rob Gronkowski.
If Brady can look this sharp for the rest of the regular season and come up clutch when his team needs, he will be the 2021 NFL MVP.
Providence College Investigates: Who Will Win the 2021-22 College Football Season?
Alabama Crimson Tide
As always, we head into this NCAA football season with the spotlight centered on the same couple teams that we always see.
The University of Alabama Crimson Tide enters the season as the favorites to win the national championship, with The Ohio State University, Clemson University, and The University of Oklahoma right behind them as teams to look out for.
Although they each have a chance, no one will be stopping Alabama, who will be lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
The Crimson Tide will have a tough task ahead of them replacing nearly all of the superstar talent that they had on offense during the 2020 CFB season.
At quarterback, Nick Saban suffered a huge loss this offseason when his record-breaking quarterback, Mac Jones, was drafted in the first round to the New England Patriots (let’s go Mack). The man to fill his rather large shoes is 20-year-old Bryce Young.
The coaching staff in Tuscaloosa is more than confident that their young quarterback can get the job done, and scouts around the country concur.
Reigning Heisman trophy winner DeVonta Smith (WR) was also taken in the first round of the NFL Draft and will be dearly missed by the Alabama offense. Najee Harris (RB), Jaylen Waddle (WR), Alex Leatherwood (OT), Landon Dickerson (C), and Deonte Brown (G), are also key members of the 2021 Crimson Tide offense who were drafted to the NFL, so they definitely have their work cut out for them this off-season.
While expected to be great, it’s quite unrealistic to ask rookie Bryce Young to repeat what Alabama has done the past few years under Mac Jones.
Reports state that while comfortable in the pocket, Young will not be slinging the rock as frequently and effectively as past ‘Bama quarterbacks have.
And we can’t forget about their defense losing exceptional cornerback Patrick Surtain II to the Denver Broncos in the first round of the NFL Draft. Stay on the lookout for a hole in the Alabama defensive backfield.
Oklahoma is another team that I plan on keeping my eye on throughout the 2021 CFB season (as they always are). They are coming off an explosive season, ranking number 1 amongst all CFB offenses in 2020 and averaged close to 500 yards per game.
Oklahoma native quarterback Spencer Rattler is returning to the Sooners with his eyes on one thing: a National Championship. With seven returning starters around him, he may have the supporting cast to get the job done. With that being said, good luck against Alabama, Spencer.
All the talk is about the Alabama University Crimson Tide this season, but the Clemson University Tigers are going to be National Champions once again under head coach Dabo Swinney.
To win in college football, you need a coach who can round his team together. Besides Nick Saban of Alabama, Dabo Swinney is the bestcoach in college football, and he has shown that for years now. Coaching matters.
The Tigers come into the 2021 season with the second best odds to win it all behind the Crimson Tide, but quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has already shown flashes of what he is going to do for Clemson this year.
After losing Trevor Lawrence, who entered into the NFL Draft and was the number one pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team suffered a huge loss. However, Uiagalelei is no scrub. He is more than capable of leading his team to a National Championship.
Uiagalelei is a five-star and top- ten recruit out of California from the class of 2020 who played last season when Lawrence was ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols.
He is exactly the type of player Clemson often recruits. He’s a very big player, standing at six foot four and 249 pounds with the arm strength to run any type of offense.
Although the Tigers lost to the University of Notre Dame in the first game Uiagalelei played, he still stood out with 439 passing yards and three touchdowns.
In the next game against Boston College, Uiagaleilei led the Tigers to a come-from-behind win and made one thing sure: He is impressive enough to be starting this upcoming season.
Then, it is not hard to look at the other side of the ball and see how impressive Clemson’s defense really is.
It becomes a lot easier for Dabo Swinney when he recruits top star talent, but he still needs to mesh everyone together. Even when theirbest players are out the door after three seasons, Swinney and his staff recruit well.
This year, the Tigers bring back nine of their 12 top tacklers. Linebacker Baylon Spector is the key returner in the heart of the defense as he led the team with 65 tackles and tackles for loss with 10.5.
Clemson dismissed All-ACC corner Derion Kendrick, but still had steady options in the backfield with Nolan Turner and Lannden Zanders.
By putting this team together with DJ Uiagalelei under center and a defense with a lot of returners, Dabo Swinney will win his third National Championship at Clemson.
PCI: Who Will Win the 2021 World Series?
Providence College Investigates: The MLB
The New York Yankees
By Margaret Maloney ’23
In 2020, the New York Yankees lost a tough battle against the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series, losing three games to two. The Yankees largely missed out on the World Series last year because of their weaknesses in pitching and hitting. These deficiencies have been accounted for in the offseason and will help lead the Yankees to victory in the World Series in 2021.
On April 1, Yankee Stadium came alive again to watch the Yankees face the Toronto Blue Jays. The game went to 10 innings, and New York fell short with a 3-2 loss. But this first loss of the season does not reflect the potential that the team has to make it all the way. The Yankees’ starting pitcher for this game, Gerrit Cole, has won many games for the team in the past because of his unstoppable pitching.
Sarah Langs of MLB.com puts Cole at the top of tier one in her 2021 starting pitcher rankings. “Cole has 696 strikeouts since the start of 2018, 61 more than any other pitcher in that span,” reported Langs. “He’s posted a sub-2.90 ERA in each of the past three seasons, including a 2.84 mark in 73 innings in his debut season with the Yankees in 2020.”
While Cole did not perform to the best of his ability on Opening Day, this does not mean the rest of his season will continue this way. Gerrit Cole has great potential to be the best pitcher in the league and to carry his team to the World Series in 2021.
Another key player for the Yankees this season is starting second baseman, DJ LeMahieu, who has been their most valuable player for two years running. LeMahieu signed a six-year, $90 million deal with New York in January. He is coming off a season in which he led the American League with a .364 batting average, a .421 on-base percentage and a 1.011 OPS, also pacing the league with a 177 OPS+.
LeMahieu, so far in 2021, has a batting average of .300, a .382 on-base percentage, and a .799 On-base-plus-slugging-percentage, which predicts a very promising season for him as a baseman and as a batter. LeMahieu will play a crucial role in leading the Yankees to the World Series, and considering his performance so far, he will execute to his full potential.
There is much talk of the Los Angeles Dodgers winning for the second year in a row and continuing on their hot streak. However, the Yankees have a retooled roster of talented players, which will allow them to take home a World Series win.
The Philadelphia Phillies
By Ben Bilotti ’23
The common picks to win it all this season are the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Braves, Mets, and White Sox. While these are all strong choices, I am going to go a different route. My pick to win the Fall Classic this year is the Philadelphia Phillies, a true “dark horse.”
Simply put, the Phillies were not great last season. In a shortened 60-game season, the Phillies finished below .500 with a 28-32 record. However, this was largely due to a flawed bullpen. Last season the bullpen was historically bad, posting a 7.06 combined earned-run average. That is the second-worst bullpen ERA in Major League history.
The Phillies’ front office recognized this was a clear problem and took action. In the offseason, they acquired Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, and Brandon Kintzler, who are all relief pitchers who have had success in the past. The bullpen was not the only area improved, as key pieces were added to the starting rotation as well, such as veterans Matt Moore and Chase Anderson.
It is still early in the season, but, so far, all offseason acquisitions have contributed in a positive manner. These new additions, paired with rotation staples Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Elfin, make up a very serviceable rotation. If all goes well, it could be one of the best in baseball.
The pitching staff is well-rounded and improved, which brings us to the lineup. When everyone is healthy, the Phillies’ lineup is prolific. Players such as Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew McCutchen are all looking to bounce back and contribute. Gregorius and Hoskins have already shown their power strokes are back. The Phillies also have the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, who is a top-tier defensive catcher and the best hitting catcher in the game. He can also move down the base paths, proving that he truly impacts the game on all levels.
The Phillies also have Bryce Harper. The narrative over the years is that the $330-million man is overrated. I believe the opposite. Advanced statistics (as well as the eye test) prove that Harper is an above-average player. His average exit velocity, walk percentage, and advanced metrics such as expected batting average all put Harper in the 90th percentile or higher. These statistics are impressive and prove that Harper is going to be a key contributor to the Phillies’ offense.
In the end, even though the Phillies’ odds of winning the World Series to begin the year were very low, I believe they have what it takes to pull it off. Their starters can get quality starts and go long into games. The bullpen has also significantly improved, and the team’s role players look to be filling their spots just fine. When all is said and done, the Philadelphia Phillies will be the 2021 World Series champions.
PCI: Who Will Win The Final Four Most Outstanding Player Award?
Providence College Investigates: College Basketball
By Margaret Maloney ’23
The Illinois Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball Team abruptly appeared on everyone’s radar during the 2020-2021 Men’s Division I basketball season. This is largely because of one player who has emerged from his shell in his third year as a force to be reckoned with: Ayo Dosunmu. A Chicago native, the 6-foot-5-inch, 200-pound junior guard has created a name for himself by averaging 20.7 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor.
Let’s recap Dosunmu’s freshman and sophomore seasons: in his freshman season (2018-2019), Dosunmu averaged 13.8 points per game, four rebounds per game, and had a field goal percentage of 43.5. He was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection. He was also named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on multiple occasions.
In his sophomore season (2019-2020), Dosunmu averaged 16.6 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, and shot 48.4 percent from the floor. He was named to First-Team All-Big Ten while also being named Big Ten Player of the Week on multiple occasions. While Dosunmu’s numbers have increased since 2018, why has he all of a sudden been the talk of this year’s season?
The answer involves more than hard work and talent. Back in August 2020, a few months before the NBA Draft, Dosunmu was ready and prepared to take his talents to the NBA. But he had a realization that led him to withdraw. In a video Dosunmu posted on Twitter, he said, “Since [I was] a kid, I’ve been working, my dream is to play in the NBA. But first I need that national championship.”
This energy and determination that Dosunmu displayed many months ago fired up his entire team. Alongside Dosunmu are players like Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo, who have equally matched Dosunmu’s strong desire to win a national championship.
However, the path to a No. 1 seed in the tournament has not been easy. Illinois’s most recent game against Ohio State was a tough test. The Fighting Illini beat the Buckeyes 73-68. This was the last regular season game before the start of conference tournaments, and it was also Dosunmu’s first game back after suffering a concussion and facial injuries.
Not only was Dosunmu ready to come back with a bang in his last regular season performance, a game in which he scored 19 points, but he was also ready to look the part. He donned a black face-mask, due to a broken nose, for that game and the conference tournament. Dosunmu tells ESPN that he is “into comic books and stuff. I feel like a superhero with a black mask on.” This superhero energy will help make Dosunmu the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player as he leads the Fighting Illini on a deep run.
By Leo Hainline ’23
For the first time since 1997, the NCAA National Championship will come back to the West Coast as the Gonzaga University will complete a perfect season and win the program’s first-ever title. In 1997, when the University of Arizona did it, the team was led by five players who would eventually play in the NBA, two of whom had fantastic professional careers—Mike Bibby and Jason Terry. Gonzaga has multiple NBA talents on their own roster, but nobody stands out as a league-ready player like 6-foot-6-inch guard Jalen Suggs.
While he was not named the West Coast Conference MVP, an award that was given to his teammate Corey Kispert, Suggs is the X factor for Gonzaga. He is incredibly well-rounded and has no true weaknesses. His shooting is superb, he has NBA size and strength, he is quick and aggressive, and he can finish in traffic around the rim. If Suggs is on his game, Gonzaga will not only win, but will dominate against any team in the country, even against the other three top seeds.
Earlier in the season, the Bulldogs squared off against the University of Iowa at a neutral location in Sioux Falls, SD in what felt like a potential Final Four preview. While all the hype leading up to the matchup was about Hawkeye big man Luka Garza, Jalen Suggs stole the spotlight and put on a masterclass performance. He dropped 27 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and was seven-for-ten from beyond the arc.
In Gonzaga’s most recent game, the West Coast Conference championship against Brigham Young University, the Cougars played a near perfect first half of basketball and had the Bulldogs on upset alert. The momentum of the game changed when Suggs took it upon himself to lead the team to victory. He asserted himself on both ends of the court and BYU’s 10-point lead became a 10-point deficit by the end of the game. Suggs’ best performances have all come against Gonzaga’s toughest competition—the University of Kansas, Iowa, and BYU—teams he may take on deep in the tournament.
Only five freshmen have ever won Final Four MVP, the most recent being Duke University’s Tyus Jones in 2017. Suggs has all the individual tools and the supporting cast to become the sixth. Gonzaga is long overdue for a national championship in college hoops, and while the program has produced phenomenal teams in the recent past, this Bulldog roster is the best the school has ever had. Suggs is currently a projected top-three pick in the next NBA draft, but do not be surprised if he becomes the front runner to be selected first after he leads Gonzaga to their first NCAA tournament title.
PCI: Who Will Win the Big East Men’s Tournament?
Providence College Investigates: College Basketball
Creighton University Will End Villanova’s Reign
By Jack Belanger ’21
After three straight Big East titles, Villanova University will likely be the favorites once again to be conference champions. If any team is going to end the Wildcats’ reign, it is going to be coach Greg McDermott’s Creighton University Bluejays. Outside the Wildcats, Creighton has the best combination of versatility and experience to make a deep run in the tournament.
The Bluejays are one of the most complete teams in the conference. The team has five players averaging over 10 points per game, led by Marcus Zegarowski, who is averaging 14.9 points a game. Center Christian Bishop leads the entire Big East in field goal percentage, shooting 70 percent.
Creighton’s team defense has played a huge factor in their success. Teams are shooting less than 40 percent against them as well as averaging 68.4 points per game. With all five starters standing between six-feet-two-inches and six-feet-seven-inches, the Bluejays rarely get caught in a mismatch. Where they lack in size they make up for in athleticism.
While they only average three blocks per game, Creighton is second in the Big East in steals, with 7.3 per game. The team does have one shot blocker in seven-foot center Ryan Kalkbrenner who can come off the bench when the team needs to protect the paint.
The Bluejays are one of the few teams that match up well against the Wildcats. In their first meeting of the season, Creighton won 86-70 with 25 points from Zegarowski. The team was hot from the three-point line, knocking down 46.2 percent of their shots. It was Villanova’s biggest loss of the season.
With five losses in the Big East, Creighton is far from a perfect team. They split their season series with Providence College thanks to center Nate Watson ’21 dominating the paint and a bad day behind the arc. While anything can happen in the tournament, what works in the favor of the Bluejays is they have an experienced team that is used to playing under pressure.
All of Creighton’s starters are juniors or seniors with experience playing in the Big East Tournament. With the cancelation of last year’s tournament, teams with freshmen and sophomores could be prone to mistakes when the game is on the line.
Even if they are not making shots, Creighton is one of the more disciplined teams in the conference. With the third best turnover margin, the Bluejays know how to protect the ball as well as create opportunities for themselves.
Everyone will be aiming to take down Villanova and end their reign as champs. Creighton is in second place for a reason. They can match up with the Wildcats better than anyone else and cover up their own flaws. After three straight titles, Villanova’s run will end thanks to the Bluejays.
Villanova Will Win Their Fourth Straight
By Liam Tormey ’22
Sports Assistant Editor
Villanova University has won the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament four times in the last six years. This year, once again, the Wildcats will win the Big East tournament.
Currently one of the best teams in the country, as they sit at the top of the Big East standings, the Wildcats’ offensive firepower is going to carry them to a title. First things first: all of Villanova’s starting five is averaging double-digit figures. That five includes the reliable Collin Gillespie, alongside Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels, and Caleb Daniels. Any player in the group has the firepower to take over a game, and that will be crucial come tournament time.
Gillespie, a battle-tested senior, has done it all in his time at Villanova and will be a major reason why the Wildcats will come away with another Big East title. This season, Gillespie is averaging 14.4 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. A part of the 2018 Villanova National Championship team, Gillespie’s leadership will continue to be infinitely valuable to the team when they enter Madison Square Garden in March.
Sophomore Robinson-Earl has continued to show all year why he was ranked as an elite prospect coming out of high school. He is the Wildcats’ leading scorer this season with 15.5 points per game to go along with 7.9 rebounds. His season high this year was a 28-point game against Arizona State, but he has proven to have the ability to put up consistent numbers every game.
Another sophomore, Moore, has also provided solid scoring for the Wildcats. Averaging 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, Moore is a two-way guard who has continued to improve his game since arriving at Villanova.
Samuels and Daniels finish out one of the most complete starting fives in college basketball. Samuels, the 6-foot-7-inch senior, has shown his capability all year long. Averaging 11.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds, Samuels can put up big numbers, especially after his 32-point performance in early February against Georgetown University. Daniels adds another 10.6 points per game for the Wildcats, rounding out the starting five.
The Wildcats do not have a deep roster of guys coming off the bench, but the capable play of players such as Cole Swider and Brandon Slater will be beneficial come tournament time.
Let us not forget about how great of a coach Jay Wright is, too. In his 20th year as the head coach of Villanova, Wright has won the Big East tournament four times, has been to the Final Four three times, and has won a National Championship twice. There is no question he will have his guys ready to play in the tournament, no matter who they come up against.