Joe Lunardi has been pumping out Bracketology updates for ESPN since November 3rd — also known as 8 days before the start of the 2016-17 college basketball season. Lunardi waiting two weeks before putting out his second iteration but, since that one was released on November 17th Lunardi has been putting out updated brackets every Thursday. While Providence debuted on Lunardi’s page on December 8th as one of the “Next Four Out”, the Friars managed to find their way into the field this week by being the first team listed in the “Last Four Byes” category.
Providence enters Lunardi’s latest field of 68 as a 10 seed in the East Region. Lunardi has the Friars facing off against 7th seeded Florida State in Indianapolis. While being a 10 seed on December 15th means very little come selection Sunday, it has to feel good for Providence fans to see their beloved Friars, off to a very solid 8-2 start to the season, getting some love from the likes of Lunardi. This was expected to be a rebuilding year, or as I was calling it a developmental year, for Ed Cooley’s Friars. Asked by Evan Daniels for FoxSports.com recently how “pleased” he is with the first 10 games of the season, Cooley responded “I’m surprised.” Cooley continued, “you don’t want to get too excited because you have a long way to go, but in the short term, I’m definitely surprised at how quick our group is coming together.”
That speaks to the program that Cooley has built since arriving back in the spring of 2011. There are no ready-made stars on this Providence team. There are no McDonald’s All-American’s or top-25 recruits at Cooley’s disposal. What he does have is a few players that appear to be taking leaps in their development in Rodney Bullock, Kyron Cartwright and Jalen Lindsey. Lindsey was ranked the highest of that group and, so far, he’s arguably made the biggest jump from where he was to where he is at the moment. Bullock and Cartwright get most of the ink on being improved but both were very solid contributors on last year’s team that advanced to the Round of 32 before losing to eventual national runner-up North Carolina.
With apologies to Lunardi — mostly because in his heart of hearts I don’t think he really wants to be releasing weekly brackets in mid-December — these early season brackets are fairly useless, especially since conference play hasn’t started. But in looking to take some value in this latest release one easy cherry to pick is the Big East has 6 of their 10 teams in Lunardi’s field. That 60% is only bested by the 62.5% of the ACC and is tied with the Big 12.
Get excited, Friar fans. Your team is in the field of 68….on December 15th. But what you should really be excited about on December 15th is that you have a great coach who fits perfectly with your school and program and he seems to always find a way to get the best out of his players. Hopefully that coach sees plenty of you at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center over the next 11 weeks.
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