The college basketball regular season is coming to a close. That only means one thing. March Madness is upon us and as usual there is a surprise team that is built to make a run. This season that title of a surprisingly good team belongs to the Providence Friars. In fact, it’s safe to say this has been a cinderella season for the Providence Friars. So how exactly has their season gone?
Last season was a season of dread and regret for the Friars. They were 9-10 in the Big East and had an overall record of 13-13 which is not usual for an Ed Cooley lead team. Expectations were not as high but there still were winning expectations coming into the season. It’s safe to say that the Friars have lived up to those winning expectations.
A hot start
The Friars came out hot this season starting off 5-0. That was expected of them. Senior Nate Watson from Portsmouth, Virginia lead the charge to this undefeated start. Watson was the top scorer in three of of those five games and also was the top rebounder in their 92-64 win over Sacred Heart. However, the hot undefeated start came to the end at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers. But, little did we all know the Friars would then go off on an epic run.
An impressive winning streak
After their 18 point loss to Virginia the Friars went on an eight game winning streak with their game against Georgetown on December 22nd being postponed. But, that doesn’t take away from Providence getting hot and having two wins against top 20 teams (UConn and Seton Hall). During this winning streak Noah Horchler continued to be dominant down low getting nearly 10 rebounds per game. He also got two double-doubles as well.
Where the Friars stand now
After the Friars had their eight game win streak snapped against the Marquette Golden Eagles, they went on another eight game win streak before suffering their third loss of the year against the Villanova Wildcats. Their last game was a three overtime victory over the Xavier Musketeers in which they won their 13th conference game this year which is the most in school history. Currently the Friars stand at 23-3 ranked 11th in the nation and are sitting in first place in the Big East. Before their loss to Villanova, the Friars were a top ten team in the country. So what gives?
For starters, Jared Bynum has improved his shooting from beyond the arc. Bynum was one of the worst guards a season ago but now has done a completely changed up his game. Last season he was shooting 11.9 percent from beyond the arc. This season its drastically improved to 45.8 percent. It’s not just Bynum who is also playing at a top tier level. It’s also Noah Horchler. Horchler has a few double-doubles on the season and as a whole is averaging just under a double-double. But, it wouldn’t be fair to also mention the leadership from coach Ed Cooley. Cooley turned this team around from it’s dreadful season a year ago and has put Providence in position to win the Big East regular season title for the first time ever. They can achieve this feat on Saturday if they win against the Creighton Bluejays.
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-Matt Burnett (@mattthew_jordan on Twitter)