It's all fun and games until you get into conference play, and the Providence Friars did not disappoint in their first matchup. It was a Saturday night at the XL Center, facing off against the 20th ranked Connecticut Huskies, lead by "The Carpenter" Dan Hurley.
The home crowd came in full force, selling out the venue. Unfortunately for them, they witnessed a 53-57 loss and were left stunned by the game.
Flash forward to this morning, and the Friars finally got respect on the AP Top-25 Poll. In the first time in five years, the Friars cracked into the nation's elite, clocking in at No. 22. They’re one of four Big East programs to rank in the poll, joining No. 15 Seton Hall, No. 18 Xavier and No. 23 Villanova.
Sitting at 11-1 for the season, the Friars are off to their best start under Coach Ed Cooley, since the 2015-2016 season, where they were 14-1 heading into January. Obviously a ranking isn't the end goal, but the respect noted early on in the season is much appreciated.
However, looking at the rest of the poll, the Friars are just above two teams they already defeated this year (No. 24 Wisconsin and No.25 Texas Tech). Villanova also sits a spot below them, carrying 4 losses already into the season. Beggars can't be choosers, but I think 22 is a little low. The key matchups to look for in the coming week is Seton Hall (Dec.29, Jan.18), Xavier (Jan. 26, Feb. 23), Villanova (Feb.15, Mar. 1)
and the rematch against UConn (Jan.15) Big East basketball is back! Don't sleep on the Friars. Top 15 coming soon.