The excitement in these parts around Providence College basketball is back, arguably for the first time since the late 1990s. The Friar hoopsters are in the Big East semi-finals for the first time since 1997 by virtue of yesterday’s 79-74 win over St. John’s.
PC was able to withstand a furious run at the end by St. John’s to win on what is virtually the St. John’s home court at Madison Square Garden. This has been a remarkable team coached by Ed Cooley that has overcome all sorts of obstacles, including the loss of crucial players and injuries.
What is left is a team that really only has six players. Notable yesterday was Josh Fortune stepping up when all-star Bryce Cotton went into a shooting slump. PC also hit their free throws down the stretch when they counted and played very tough defense. St. John’s also was hurt by cold shooting in the second half, especially from outside.
Now comes the real fun. Yesterday’s marquee upset by Seton Hall over Villanova sets the table for something nobody from Westerly to Woonsocket would have thought possible 30 days ago – the Friars getting into the NCAA tournament. All that stands between PC and the big dance is a win tonight over Seton Hall, which would give the Friars 22 wins on the season.
Game time is 7 p.m. on Fox Sports One. There will not be an empty tavern with big screens anywhere in Little Rhody tonight.