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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / May 21.
  • Providence, Unbeaten in the Big East, Poised to Crack the Top 25

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    Not a whole lot was expected from the Providence Friars this season.

    After losing a slew of players to graduation, they were picked 5th in the Big East preseason poll.

    But after beating St. John’s, 83-80, on Saturday for their ninth consecutive win, the Friars stand at 14-3, 6-0 in the Big East and are poised to enter the AP Top 25 poll on Monday.

    “Our players grew up with respect to how to deal with adversity today,” Cooley said. “We were a little out of sorts without Jared [Bynum].  I tell our players to trust what we’re doing and believe in each other. It’s a long game, and we always want to be there at the end.” 

    The Friars haven’t lost since Nov. 30 at Texas Christian. They have won 21 of their last 25 Big East games, per Kevin McNamara, after winning their first regular-season title a year ago. They were ranked No. 33 in the NET Rankings before the St. John’s win.

    On Wednesday, they beat No. 4 UConn 73-61 a home and followed that with a win over St. John’s that came without Bynum (abdomen), a preseason All-Big East First-Team selection.

    Cooley hit the Transfer Portal hard last spring and it’s paying off.

    Former Kentucky forward Bryce Hopkins is the early favorite for Big East Player of the Year honors while averaging 16.0 points and 9.1 rebounds (while Kentucky is struggling).

    South Carolina transfer Devin Carter is averaging 13.2 points and 4.3 rebounds, and Louisville transfer Noah Locke averages 10.1 points while shooting 37% from deep.

    Against St. John’s, Locke went for 20 points with five 3’s (both season-highs), while Carter had 19 points, five assists and five boards. Redshirt senior Ed Croswell chipped in with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

    Cooley, meantime, has to be considered in the mix to become the first league coach to win back-to-back Coach of the Year honors since Jay Wright won three straight from 2014-16. (UConn’s Dan Hurley and Marquette’s Shaka Smart are also in consideration.)

    ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Providence as a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament with them trending upward.

    On Monday, the Friars could find themselves ranked in the Top 25 ahead of another chance to make a statement Saturday on the road at Big East preseason favorite Creighton.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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