23. Providence (11-2)
We’re still very early into Kim English’s tenure running this Friars program but it’s hard to be disappointed. The record looks great and the strength of it is even greater when you dive into some of their performances. It would’ve been really nice to have beaten Kansas State in overtime, and they were blown out by Oklahoma, but let’s think about the good that Bryce Hopkins and company have accomplished.
Providence, who did not have any games this past week, boast two impressive home wins, getting a 13-point win over Wisconsin back in mid-November and a 15-point win against Marquette just a week before Christmas. These were also two of the Friars’ best defensive performances of the season, showcasing what this unit could be capable of this season, even in a Big East jam packed with talent and upside.
There’s no question that the Friars will continue to be underdogs against several of the other contenders in this league, but they proved they belonged against the Golden Eagles and will keep getting chances in the months to come. They’ll actually have a third straight home game to open up conference play, playing Seton Hall on Wednesday, but get their first road opportunity against a hungry Creighton team next weekend.