Friars playing with nothing to lose, everything to gain

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Not many people expected the Friars to be where they’ll be tonight.

A season ending shoulder surgery, two season long suspensions and an undermanned rotation later, and the Friars have proved all doubters wrong.

After making an improbable run en route to the program’s first Big East Championship in 20 years, this year’s team has an opportunity to etch their names in the record books even further.

They’ll have that opportunity tonight in San Antonio when they look across the floor and see the same Carolina blue that Michael Jordan and many other greats once wore.

The good thing for the Friars is that Jordan won’t be coming out of that Tar Heel locker room. Instead, they’ll get a solid team that’s had an identity crisis all season long. A season that has been highlighted by wins against top teams such as Duke, Michigan State, and Louisville and featured losses against Belmont, UAB, and Wake Forest, not to mention a quarterfinal loss in the ACC Tournament to Pittsburgh.

On the other hand, you have a Providence team that has battled adversity all season long and are playing their best basketball.

I’m sure Bryce Cotton would’ve never deemed this possible after his freshman year at Providence under Keno Davis, a season in which the Friars were in the basement of the Big East with a 4-14 conference record.

But just three short years later, Ed Cooley has resurrected this program and Cotton has become the face of the program after contemplating a departure following that forgettable 2010-11 season.

With the transformation of the program now complete, the Friars will now turn dreams into a reality, having the chance to play a team like the North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament.

The bottom line is that Carolina is a good team, but they’re expected to be here. The program has made it to 18 Final Fours, more than any other school in the country, stacked up against only two for the Friars.

However, March is about which team is hot at the moment. Without question, the Friars are the hotter team, winning the Big East Tournament while the Tar Heels backpedaled into the dance with two straight losses.

In March, anything can happen, maybe even a Friar victory over arguably the greatest college basketball program in the country.

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