Friars Await Post Season Fate

Providence traveled to the Big East Tournament hoping to do enough to secure an NCAA bid this Sunday. The Friars managed to power past suddenly inspired Depaul down the stretch in the 2nd round of the tournament, but were overmatched in a loss versus #1 seed Louisville in the quarter finals. Now Keno Davis and his team await post season judgement.

Both the players and the coaches of Providence College know they will be playing the in post season, they just don't know for sure yet which tournament it will be in. Weyinmi Efejuku said after the loss to Louisville in the Big East quarter finals he would be going to back to campus that night and continue to work out this weekend with an expectation of playing in the post season, regardless of what tournament it is in.

"I try not to think about it (post season chances) too much. People will tell me the scores of games, but I actually watch more NBA games on TV than college. I will be watching the Selection Show on Sunday though."

Providence is still somewhere on the proverbial "Bubble", a nebulous place where records and schedules are picked apart ad nauseam. Providence will be presented to the Selection Committee with an overall Big East record of 11-9 and 19-13 overall into the NCAA Committee room this weekend. The highlights of that record will be win over former #1 Pittsburgh and a surging Syracuse team that has turned heads at the Big East Tournament. Will those accomplishments within the strongest conference in the nation be enough secure a bid?

Rick Pitino certainly thinks so. The Louisville coach said in New York that in any top two or three conference in the nation, a winning record in a league as difficult as Big East should be enough for the NCAA committee without question. Is he right?

Conventional wisdom would seem suggest the Friars will come up short. Providence's non-conference work was not very strong this year, in large part due to Sharaud Curry's slow recovery from a broken foot. As a result, the Friars were unable to avoid a season opening loss to Northeastern, as well as losses to St. Mary's, Baylor, and Boston College who have also straddled the bubble at different points this season. Their best non-conference win was over fellow bubble team Rhode Island.

So is it that simple? Are the Friars NIT bound without question? The odds do look a little long given some results around the nation in recent days, but you can bet that everyone will watch Selection Sunday just the same with bubble teams like South Carolina, UNLV, and Florida seemingly playing their way out of the tournament. Projecting the last few teams in the field of 65 is like Bible math, a convoluted jigsaw puzzle of statistics, ratings, and percentages, where the most odd rationales can sometimes be used to determine who is in, and who is ultimately out.

Did anyone expect Stanford to get a bid in 2007? How about Air Force in 2006? Frankly, this edition of the Friars has accomplished more than both of those teams did. The lesson here is to expect some of the unexpected. Of course that doesn't mean the unexpectedly good will necessarily happen for Providence, but it provides just enough interest to see how it all plays out.

Providence Coach Keno Davis hasn't spoken to anyone about what would have to happen for Providence to slip into the NCAA tournament, but he does think that the Friars have done enough in the most important part of the season to demonstrate they are an NCAA quality team. "You see the scores up there on the TV, and you understand which teams you want to see win to give your team a better shot for a bid, said Davis. "But, you can't get too caught up in every game that is out there."

If the Friars are not fortunate enough to receive and NCAA tournament bid, Coach Davis was asked if he thought his team would be able to bounce back and find the motivation to compete with their best effort in the NIT with a group of seniors who would certainly be feeling some disappointment. Davis stated:

"That's a valid question for any team that's on the bubble that feels like they have an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament and it doesn't come. Then they have to try and bounce back from that and compete hard in the NIT. I think this team would be able to do that. I think our team is playing at the highest level they have all season and I think our guys, especially our seniors, would like their season to continue."

NCAA Tournament selections will be announced Sunday at 6pm. NIT field selections will be announced later that evening.

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