NCAA Tournament 2016: Examining Providence’s Draw


The Providence Friars are in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season and 18th time overall in school history. Ed Cooley has accomplished this streak for the first time since Dave Gavitt took Providence teams with Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes to three straight Big Dances between 1972-74. This is the third streak of three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament with the first being 1964-66. Those previous runs included trips to Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight and Final Four. The current streak has yet to yield a single win.

Providence was announced as the 9 seed in the East Region on Sunday night. They will play the USC Trojans, the 8 seed, in Raleigh on Thursday night at 9:50pm. The 8/9 game comes with some dread. It’s the most razor-thin margin between seeded teams in the First Round. Since the field expanded to 64 in 1985, there have only been five 9 seeds that have made it to the Sweet Sixteen (UTEP 1992, Boston College 1994, UAB 2004, Northern Iowa 2010, Wichita State 2013) with only two advancing to the Elite Eight (Boston College 1994, Wichita State 2013) and one to the Final Four (Wichita State 2013).

Comparison

(8) USC

(9) Providence

Overall Record

21-12

23-10

League Record

9-9; 6th

10-8; 4th

RPI

51

40

Kenpom

49

46

Neutral Record

2-3

3-2

Best Win

vs Arizona

at Villanova

Worst Loss

at Arizona St

at DePaul

Common Opponents

Arizona (1-1), Xavier (0-1)

Arizona (1-0), Xavier (0-2)

The 8 seed holds a 63-61 advantage against 9 seeds all-time in the Round of 64. If the 9 seed manages to defeat the 8 seed, the 9 seed has gone 56-5 all-time against the 1 seed. The Friars are 0-1 since 1985 against the 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are 1-0 all-time against USC, with the win coming in January 1972 in Los Angeles. Of the 8 seeds, USC was ranked as the 3rd of four by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Providence was ranked 1st of the four 9 seeds. The early line favored Providence by 1.5 points and that moved quickly to the Friars being preferred by 2.5 or even 3 points at some bookmakers. The line has settled back down around 1.5 points. In fact, all four 9 seeds opened as favorites and remain as favorites as of this publishing.

An argument could be made for Providence to be better than a 9 seed, but they didn’t get a horrible draw, all things considered. The Friars lose out a bit this season by having one of the Eastern sites for the first two rounds being in their own arena, which eliminates it as a potential destination. Raleigh is a quick flight from Providence/Boston and their opponent is traveling further this time around. Obviously being the 9 seed means they would have to face the 1 seed in the Round of 32, but just getting to that point would be a welcome sign for a program that hasn’t been in the win column in this tournament since 1997.

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