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Could Friars Be A Bubble Team?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, many college basketball teams are attempting to make their final push towards getting a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

For the top teams in the country it’s about trying to secure a top seed. With no clear-cut #1 team this year, the top seeds in all four regions are up for grabs. At the moment, every team in the top 10 of both the AP and USA Today top 25 polls have a legitimate chance to secure a #1-seed depending upon the way they finish the regular season and perform in their conference’s postseason tournament.

And then there are teams like the Providence Friars.

Left for dead about a month and a half ago, PC has picked itself up off the mat and is now at least on the periphery of the discussion about possibly being a “bubble team.”

Don’t believe me? Following the team’s win over 21st-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday, the bleacher report had an article asking fans if Providence College or Villanova had a better chance of making it to the NCAA Tournament.

It seems crazy to be thinking that this is a possibility for the Friars given what happened in late December and early January.

From December 22nd through January 9th, PC suffered through a 5-game losing skid that featured “bad” losses to Boston College, Brown and DePaul.

It is this writers opinion that, unless they run the table to finish the regular season which would include a win over 8th-ranked Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Wednesday night, that those “bad” losses would be enough to hurt their resume’ from getting a spot in the field of 68.

So why, then, are some people even bringing up the possibility of PC having a shot at the Tournament? Let’s take a closer look.

At the time this article was written, the Friars sported an overall record of (14-11) and were (6-7) in the Big East. PC is also riding a 4-game winning streak and has what many believe to be four winnable games in their remaining five.

After their trip to Syracuse, Providence has road games at Rutgers and UConn and home games against St. John’s and Seton Hall.

What if they were to win 4 of their remaining 5 games? That would leave them with a record of (18-12) and (10-8) in the Big East.

The 18-wins would not be impressive, but the 10 victories in the Big East would be. Add to that the fact that the team would be “finishing the season strongly” by winning 8 of their last 9 games, and you could see where the selection committee might take notice.

Currently, PC’s RPI is 86th and on the rise. If they were to win 4 of their last 5, that RPI ranking would surely be right in that bubble area of 50-65.

But those “bad” losses to BC, Brown and DePaul may ultimately prevent them from participating in the Big Dance.

At the moment, their two victories over ranked teams came at home against Cincinnati and Notre Dame.

NCAA Tournament committee selection chairman Mike Bobinski said in a recent interview that he was looking for teams who could pick up quality wins on the road because there are no home games in the Tournament. PC’s only decent road win is at Villanova.

If, however, they were to pull off a monumental upset of Syracuse tomorrow night, that would be the marquee win they would need to solidify their resume.

But let’s also consider the following, while the team is clearly playing a much better brand of basketball as of late, to think that they will win all or even 4 of their remaining 5 games in the Big East may not be realistic.

For while we may look at Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall and UConn all as “winnable games” for the Friars, so too do the Scarlet Knights, Red Storm, Pirates and Huskies view their match-up with Providence.

However, obsessing over whether or not PC has a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament is missing the point.

Ed Cooley

What Friar fans should be happy about is that this team has finally bought in to what Ed Cooley is teaching and preaching and it is showing in the form of wins on the floor.

In fact, you can certainly argue that this team has already overachieved this season given the expectations coming in.

Let’s not forget that Providence was picked to finish last in the 15-team Big East Conference. We can confidently now say that this is not going to happen.

So while the NCAA Tournament may not be within reach this season, they may very well have what it takes to make the NIT. And that experience could help them with an eye toward next season where they may very well have a legitimate shot to participate in the Big Dance.


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