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The Sky is Not Falling on Friartown

As the calendar creeps into late February, fans are very carefully observing every move the Providence Friars make. Every win or loss will dictate their fate in a few Sundays, and fans are keen on knowing exactly how that fate will be influenced.

Coming off a huge victory over Villanova, the Friars traveled to Hinkle Fieldhouse to play the Butler Bulldogs. The Friars had a tough game and knew this wouldn’t be easy, and fans were anticipating this win as one that would solidify them for at least .500 in the conference. However, the Friars were coming in as underdogs to a talented, scrappy, and eager-to-make-a-case-for-March Bulldogs team. If they were going to win, the Friars were going to have to execute and execute well.

Unfortunately, this was the game where they played their worst half of basketball in the season. Literally. Awful shooting culminated not only in the lowest points scored in a half this season, but also the lowest points scored in a game. The defense looked almost as solid as they did against Villanova, but the offense was forgettable.

For fans, however, this is not a Chicken Little game.

At this point in the season the fans have seen enough of this PC team to know what to expect. They anticipate the highs and lows, the scoring droughts and the sudden bursts of offense. This is not surprising, even if the results of it sometimes can be jarring.

Most important, fans are still confident that PC is in this. They’re primed for third place in the conference and the opportunity to get their fifth NCAA appearance in a row. Once the dust settled from the weekend I took a look at Lunardi’s latest bracket and it didn’t move the Friars all that much. Providence’s RPI after the game went from 34 to 35. The loss was rough culturally, but in terms of numbers it didn’t change much because it was anticipated. Fans knew that too, and didn’t lose their cool over a tough one.

Instead, fans are looking ahead.

The big challenge with the remaining Big East schedule will be Providence’s ability to maintain confidence in themselves. Fans know what this team is capable of, this team knows what they’re capable of, and experts know what they’re capable of. But, just as all that is known, it’s now fairly common knowledge this team ends up in it’s own head – and fans are hoping that the Friars avoid that down the stretch. They can’t afford to blow opportunities against Georgetown, Seton Hall, and St. John’s. If they can steal those three wins – a very tall order, especially given how the Hoyas and Johnnies are playing – the Friars can feel incredibly confident going into Selection Sunday.

This was (hopefully) the worst-of-the-worst game for Providence this season. However, if that’s the case, that means the Friars have nowhere to go but up.