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bryantBefore Vincent Council injured his hamstring on Saturday, the Friars were already in somewhat of a survival mode. The start of the schedule made it a little more manageable, but the waves of zombies looking to eat Friarown’s brains were always out there waiting. Now with Council sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Friars are in zombies-coming-from-every-direction-on-Hershel’s-farm survival mode. Tonight’s opponent Bryant is not a great team, but PC needs to figure out how to master wielding the shotgun without their leader if they want make it out of Puerto Rico later in the week without getting their insides ripped out and eaten.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: Monday, 7 PM

Opponent: Bryant (0-1)

Location: The Dunk

Spread: NA

Ken Pom: Providence: #98, Bryant: #300

TeamRankings.com Projection: Providence 76.5, Bryant 61.0

Fun fact: Providence carries a 6 game winning streak against teams from Rhode Island. The last time PC lost was three years ago against URI.

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njitWake up Friartown, a new season is finally upon us! This season was not ruled just a partial qualifier by the NCAA. This season did not injure it’s shoulder requiring serious surgery and grueling rehab. I know twelve months ago it may have been tough to imagine this season starting without Ricky Ledo and Kris Dunn, but their time will come. Instead, the Friars will be moving forward with the pieces they have in order to make continual progress in the Ed Cooley era.

The first opponent to kick off 2012-2013 is NJIT.  PLEASE CALL THEM NJIT. Don’t call them New Jersey Tech or NJ Tech — seriously it’s specifically called out in their game notes. You may remember them from such losing streaks as “51 losses in a row, an NCAA record!”. The Highlanders had a rough start to their Division I days which began in 2006, but have become much more competitive in the Great West Conference over the last few years. However, Ed Cooley and the Friars should be able to ease into the season against a less talented team that is half full of newcomers.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: Saturday, 2 PM

Opponent: NJIT

Location: The Dunk

Ken Pom: Providence: #75, NJIT: #319

ESPN Pickcenter: Providence 73.5, NJIT 63.5

TeamRankings.com Projection: Providence 73.8, NJIT 64.2

Coming to the game?: “Please bring a canned food item to support the Rhode Island Food Bank’s Holiday Food Drive. For your generosity Providence College and Webster Bank will give you two tickets to a future Friar game!”

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Two years ago at the BIG EAST Tournament, I did something I normally don’t do when attending sporting events. After a season of terrible defense under Keno Davis coupled with a Seton Hall lead that reached 29 points in the 2nd half, my buddies and I bolted from Madison Square Garden with about 6 minutes left and the Friars down 20. We needed to drown our sorrows at a quicker pace, and walking up and down all those stairs each time to pay for $10 beers wasn’t going to cut it. Shortly thereafter, we watched a Duke Mondy potential game-tying three pointer sail through the air, with the possibility creating one of the worst regretful decisions I could make as a sports fan. The shot would hit the rim and Providence would lose, but would it have made a difference if it went in and the Friars were able to win in overtime (other than me wanting to throw myself in front of a bus on 5th ave for leaving the game)? The utter lack of defense was driving the team to an inevitable downward spiral, and there was surely another 109-106 loss lurking in the next game.

This season the Friars have the same amount of conference wins as those ill-fated PC teams, but Ed Cooley is setting the foundation of the program with a better brand of basketball. A win tonight against Seton Hall (a team that needs a win or two to get into the NCAA Tournament) would be another solid brick for Cooley’s Providence College Basketball team.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 7:00PM EST

Opponent: Seton Hall (19-11, 8-10)

Location: Madison Square Garden

Spread: Seton Hall -5.5

ESPN Accuscore: Seton Hall 70.3, Providence 63.3 (Seton Hall wins 71.1% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: Seton Hall 72, Providence 66

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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Irish eyes will not be smiling if Notre Dame falls to Providence Friday night in South Bend. Last time these two met Marshon Brooks went silly on the Irish defense exploding for a Big East record 52 points in a one point Notre Dame win. The Irish can clinch a double bye at the Big East tourney with a win and a top four finish in the league. Mike Brey has done one of the better coaching jobs this year in college basketball as the Irish lost their top scorer from last season when Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL in practice just two games in this year, but Abro will be in uniform for senior night. A third straight win in conference play for the Friars, going into Madison Square Garden nonetheless, would be their first in league play since they did it twice in the 2008-2009 season and would speak volumes of how far they have come since the beginning of the season. Get your shamrocks ready people.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 7:00PM EST

Opponent: #19 Notre Dame (20-10, 12-5)

Location: Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center

Spread: Fighting Irish -12

ESPN Accuscore Projection: Notre Dame 71.2, Providence 62.8 (Notre Dame wins in 74.7% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: Notre Dame 78, Providence 65

Coaching: Ed Cooley’s first return to South Bend since his BC days. Mike Brey and his mock-turtleneck try to improve their Big East and NCAA seeding.

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

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Every season, the game against UConn generates a ton of excitement in Friartown regardless of how both of their seasons are going. Last year, the Huskies demolished the Friars in Storrs and you know, ended up winning the National Championship and stuff. You won that battle I guess, UConn. Let’s move on. Tonight, in front of a rowdy Blacked Out Dunk, Ed Cooley has a good chance to kick off his involvement in the UConn rivarly with a victory (on the court that is, he currently is 1-0 recruiting courtesy of Kris Dunn). While a normal win over the Huskies would go a long way in Friartown, there is the added benefit of most likely thwarting their NCAA chances in the process. We could be the APR of 2012!

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 7:00PM EST

Opponent: Connecticut (17-11, 7-9)

Location: The Dunk

Spread: 3

ESPN Accuscore: UConn 68.5, Providence 68.4 (UConn wins in 50.3% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: UConn 75, Providence 63

Coaching: Jim Calhoun will not be on the bench because he just had surgery. Two years ago, Calhoun also missed the game and George Blaney also filled in. The result? An 81-66 PC victory. Just sayin’.

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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So, who wants the 7:00PM game on Tuesday of the BIG EAST Tournament? With both Providence and DePaul sitting at 2-13 in the conference, the winner of today’s contest will most likely be able to claim 15th place and avoid the basement, including a little more convenient (for the fans at least) game time on the first day of the tournament. What does the loser get, aside from finishing in last and being the butt of all jokes amongst other BIG EAST teams? A noon start where not a lot of fans show up. I know you’ve been giving it your all Friars, but come on bring it! Do it for those fans in NY who may not be able to get out of work for day basketball, and let’s take 15th place. Oh, and a road win would be nice. The Friars last road win? January 2010 against DePaul. If they don’t pull it off today their last chance to win a BIG EAST road game is at Notre Dame. Yep.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 2:00PM EST

Opponent: DePaul (11-16, 2-13)

Location: Allstate Arena

Spread: DePaul -1

ESPN Accuscore: Providence 76.7, DePaul 75.3 (Providence wins 55.9% of over 10,000 simulations)

CBSSports Daily Picks: DePaul 72, Providence 70

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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The last time the Providence Friars won a BIG EAST road game, Sharaud Curry and Greedy Peterson were doing their anti-defense thing, and Marshon Brooks put up 17 points against a woeful DePaul team that won 1 BIG EAST game that year. Even Johnnie Lacy saw 17 minutes of action! I wonder what that dude is doing these days. Pumping gas? Anyways, if PC is going to crack their 2 year plus dry spell of conference road contests, they are going to have to overcome a lot tonight. While Providence has played good enough to win over the last several games, fatigue and poor play down the stretch have plagued the team. At some point, these things begin to get mental and become more than just tired legs. Throw in the fact that Cincinnati is in “must win” mode these days in fighting for an NCAA Tournament birth, the Friars are going to need some special nights from their overworked top players to pull off a win.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 9:00PM EST

Opponent: Cincinnati (17-8, 7-5)

Location: Fifth Third Arena

Spread: Cincinnati -11

ESPN Accuscore: Cincinnati 74.1, Providence 63.6 (Cincinnati wins in 80.3% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: Cincinnati 79, Providence 70

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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In preperation for today’s rematch against South Florida, I exchanged some questions with Ken DeCelles the South Florida Blog “Voodoo Five”. I answered questions for them for the first game, but this time Friar Basketball answered them for this game. Head on over to Voodoo Five to read Kevin’s responses.

Friarblog: What’s new with the Bulls since the Friars visited at the end of January?

Voodoo Five: Nothing out of the ordinary really. We’ve only played two games since our battle at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, getting blown out at Georgetown and winning a surprisingly easy game against Pitt here in Tampa. Somehow we are still on the bubble, and The Quest For 16 is starting to become a reality. Fun times all around.

Friarblog: Without looking at the boxscores, I can guarantee you that Anthony Collins hasn’t made any threes since his two within those couple minutes during USF’s big run that was the difference in the game. Was that game a fluke or does he have another big shooting game in him at the Dunk?

Voodoo Five: No he didn’t, but at least he attempted one against the Hoyas. Anthony is able to run Coach Heath’s slow tempo offense almost to perfection, and he knows that a low percentage shot with plenty of time on the clock is a waste of a possession. He is gaining confidence in his shooting ability, and if left open he will let it loose. Will it mean a couple more threes? Who knows, but I do know Council will play him a little tighter today.

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On Super Bowl Sunday, the Providence Friars will take on the traitor West Virginia Mountaineers. There has been a lot of craziness so far this weekend in talking about what could be for next year’s incoming class. Before we over-indulge on wings, beer, commercials, and chips, the focus will turn to the current Friars and their chance to build off the victory this past Wednesday against Rutgers. In the locker room that night, I like to think that Ed Cooley used the ‘ol Lou Brown phrase, “You guys won tonight. If you win again the next game, that’s called a winning streak. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE!!”.

The Mounteers are coming in with a three game losing streak, but they haven’t played in almost a week. Bob Huggins should have this team extremely hungry and focused on a getting a much needed win against a team they have beaten handily over the last several years.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 12:00PM EST

Opponent: West Virginia (15-8, 5-5)

Location: The Dunk

Spread: West Virginia -4.5

ESPN Accuscore: WVU 73.8, PC 72.2 (Providence wins in 50.7% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: WVU 73, PC 71

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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On BIG EAST Media Day back in October, Mike Rice said that he hated the Ed Cooley hire, and he was going to start a petition to get him fired. Rice was joking of course, because he felt his job would be that much harder with another strong coach in the conference. Cooley would probably say otherwise in regards to Rice, because he is getting a look ahead at a similar rebuilding project and culture change for a team that has struggled over the years despite having so much local talent. The Scarlet Knights are a Dr. Jekyl / Mr. Hyde type team, but Rice gets the young team to play hard and with tough defense. It’s sounds absolutely crazy to say, but wha

There are a lot of distractions right now, with new players coming in, and several players speculated to transfer out of the program after the season. While it’s fun to look ahead to the bright future, these remaining games can help the guys who will be here next year, and help Cooley grow as a coach. More importantly, the team needs to show it hasn’t take back in it’s progression like PC’s teams over the last few years. Once the calendar strikes February, things have generally fallen apart. Over the last two seasons, Providence has won TWO games after February 1st. Interestingly enough, those were home games against South Florida and Rutgers, the two best chances PC will have for wins in their remaining 9 games.

If the Friars stumble tonight, they may be looking at another visit by this guy below.

WHAT TO: KNOW

Game Time: 7:00PM EST

Opponent: Rutgers (12-10, 4-5)

Location: The Dunk

Spread: Providence -2.0

ESPN Accuscore: Providence 66.0, Rutgers 65.1 (Rutgers wins 53.2% of over 10,000 sims)

CBSSports Daily Picks: Providence 75, Rutgers 71

Fun Fact: Mike Rice got his first victory as head coach of Rutgers against Ed Cooley and Fairfield in November 2010.

WHAT TO: VOTE FOR

Four Factors

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