What is the magic number?
That’s the question Providence fans are asking themselves after a week that saw the team upset then-No. 1 Pittsburgh at home and hold on to beat Rutgers on the road. At 18-11 overall and 10-7 in the conference, Providence is close to being an NCAA Tournament team.
The team has one game left before the Big East tournament, a road trip to Philly to take on Villanova. Winning that would make things more interesting, but barring that it will likely take a couple of wins in the conference tournament to sneak into the field.
But the Friars are taking things one game at a time. It’s focusing on using the extra rest this week to get some players healthy in time to take on the Wildcats, looking to be in the best shape possible for its upcoming trip to Madison Square Garden.
It’s a must-win game for the Friars in the team’s regular-season finale against Villanova, as Providence will need as gaudy a Big East record as possible to position itself for NCAA Tournament contention. The Wildcats and the Friars both rely on their guards, but the frontcourt battle should be interesting as well. Jonathan Kale, Geoff McDermott and Villanova’s Randall Hanke will have to contend with Dante Cunningham and the underrated Shane Clark.
“With our team coming off of an upset over Pittsburgh, you never know how your team is going to react. We really came out of the games well and realized that there was an opportunity for us to finish in the top half of the division. We didn’t execute the way that I would have liked later on in the second half, but fortunately we had enough of a cushion that we were able to hold on at the end.” — Keno Davis after the victory over Rutgers.