Texas A&M, which bowed out early in the SEC Tournament, gets a chance to hit the reset button in the NCAA Tournament.
The Aggies earned the No. 7 seed in the West Region and will face No. 10 Providence in the opening round.
Here are 5 things to know about the Friars.
How the Friars got here
Providence entered the Big East Tournament with 13 losses and without a lot of wiggle room. They outlasted Creighton in overtime in their opening round, then upset Xavier in overtime in the semifinals to set up a championship date with Villanova.
Providence pushed it to overtime before falling, but they showed enough to move off the bubble and earn an at-large invitation.
NCAA Tournament history
Providence has a rich basketball history. Rick Pitino and Rick Barnes coached the Friars to the NCAA Tournament. Pitino’s second team went to the Final Four in 1987. The Friars are in the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year, but they’ve won just one game in that span.
They’re battled tested by playing in arguably the best conference in America. Providence beat No. 1 seed Villanova once and No. 1 seed Xavier twice. They very nearly knocked off Villanova again in the Big East Tournament final.
There is no style or type of player they will encounter in the NCAA Tournament that they didn’t see in Big East play.
Must stop: Their toughness
Granted, it’s an intangible, but the Friars don’t rely on the same player every night. Therefore, they aren’t at a loss if one of starters has a bad night.
They control the pace and play physical defense — longstanding hallmarks of good Big East teams.
Rodney Bullock is their leading scorer, but it’s more more of a three-pronged attack that includes Alpha Diallo and Kyron Cartwright.
The wildcard is Jalen Lindsey. He doesn’t shoot a lot, but he shoots it well. He leads the Friars with 71 3-pointers — almost 30 more than Bullock. Lindsey was 0-for-7 against Villanova in the Big East title game, maybe the most decisive stat in that game. If he gets it going, the Aggies will have their hands full.
Did you know?
Former Florida coach Billy Donovan was the star guard on the 1987 Providence team that made the Final Four. Donovan averaged 20.6 points per game that season.