Providence Friars Season Preview: Sink or Swim?

By chrismolicki
Anthony Gruppuso-US Presswire

This was supposed to be the start of something new. A new era in Providence basketball. A top-notch recruiting class that included Ricky Ledo and Kris Dunn was supposed to combine with Vincent Council, Bryce Cotton, and LaDontae Henton to form a squad capable of making a run out of the basement and straight to the top of the Big East.

Then Dunn got hurt. And Ledo was ruled ineligible. There goes that.

But wait! The aforementioned trio along with head coach Ed Cooley could still bring promise to Providence. The question is, how much? Let’s take a look at their schedule and see how they’ll do?

The Friars start the season off with a pair of home games against N. J. I. T. and Bryant. Both of those should be easy wins. Then, they will be participating in the Puerto Rico Tip-off. Their first round opponent is Massachusetts, who looks promising this year. I’m going to say that Providence gets knocked off by the Minutemen but defeat their next Puerto Rico opponent, who will likely be Penn St.

The rest of the non-conference schedule is fairly easy. Fairfield and Holy Cross don’t pose a serious threat. The Friars should handle an inconsistent Mississippi St. team in the SEC/Big East challenge. And the remaining games against Rhode Island, Colgate, and Brown are very winnable. Providence should have a very good non-conference record. But then again, they usually do.

Once Big East play begins, the real competition will heat up. The Friars open at Louisville, which will probably be a loss to the national championship-seeking Cardinals. They should then split back-to-back home games with DePaul and Syracuse.

I expect Providence to drop its next two road games to sneaky Seton Hall and talented Georgetown, but bounce back at home by knocking off Villanova and Pittsburgh. The Friars will continue their winnings ways with a road upset of Marquette, a home victory against Connecticut, and a season sweep of Villanova.

However, not all is peachy in Rhode Island, as the team falls victim to a four game losing streak to Cincinnati, South Florida, Notre Dame, and Syracuse.

They’ll rebound with a win over Rutgers, but then lose two of their last three, succumbing to St. John’s and the Huskies while beating the Pirates.

With those games, that would put the Friars’ record at 17-11 and 8-10 in the Big East. While it seems like they’re making improvements, they may just not be there yet, and need to wait for reinforcements form Ledo and Dunn.

For more on college basketball and the Big East, follow Chris on Twitter.

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