The Crier and I have some bold takes we want to put out ahead of the start of the season. Feel free to hold our feet to the fire on these.
BOC Bold Predictions
- Providence enters Big East play nationally ranked – I mentioned this on the podcast discussion, but I feel returning 4 of 5 starters from last year’s squad, alongside 2 veteran impact transfers, will lead to a hot start for the Providence Friars. The out of conference schedule isn’t too daunting, and I can’t foresee Providence having more than 2 losses entering into Big East Play. 11 out of conference games, with a schedule of 10-1 or 9-2, should have the Friars nationally ranked with expectations sky high heading into Big East play.
- Providence significantly outperforms their Big East projection, finishing in the Top 4 of the Big East – Cooley’s teams always seem to outperform when they are overlooked, and this year is a prime example of that. Providence was preseason ranked to finish 7 in Big East. I think they can reach as high as 2, but I’m confident in them finishing in the Top 4, likely ensuring an NCAA bid.
- Providence reaches the Sweet 16 – Yes, I am clearly that bullish on this team. NCAA runs are composed of veteran squads with strong lead guards. Providence is clearly seasoned, as they may have the oldest starting 5 in all of college basketball. The presumed starting point guards (co-guards) are a 5th year senior who has experience starting at a Power 5 level, while Bynum should make a leap in his second year in the Big East after transferring from St. Joes. Additionally, I don’t foresee many teams having the ability to shutdown Nate Watson. He’s that good.
- Nate Watson finishes the season as an All-American – I can’t get too crazy and predict a First Team All-American season, but I firmly believe Watson will put up the numbers on a nationally relevant Friar squad to be an All-American. I foresee a season where Watson averages somewhere along the lines of 18 points and 7 rebounds.
- This Providence squad finishes as the highest ranked 3 point FG% in the Cooley era – This one I’m not as confident on, as the 2016-2017 squad holds this title at 37.1%, but I do believe the presence of Nate Watson is going to lead to a lot of really good looks for the Friars all season long. We know Reeves and Horchler can be sharpshooters from 3. Durham has proven to be a reliable 3 point shooter. The last piece is Bynum. If Bynum can turn it around and avoid a similar performance from deep like last year, this team has a chance of eclipsing that 37.1% mark.
The Crier Bold Predictions
- AJ Reeves will average 15+ ppg– AJ Reeves is looking to leave college basketball with a bang. Over his three year career at Providence the Boston area native has averaged 8.9 ppg for the Friars. As many of you are aware he burst on to the collegiate scene his freshman year before succumbing to a foot injury in his 10th game. Reeves would miss close to two months with the injury and just hasn’t been quite the same since. In his first 10 games Reeves averaged 14.2 ppg and was a walking bucket. AJ dropped 20+ pounds this offseason and early returns in the exhibitions suggest he may be returning to form. With David Duke Jr off to the pros, Nate Watson is going to need a running mate to shoulder the scoring load, my money is on that being Reeves
- This Friar squad is a KenPom Top 50 Defense – This shouldn’t be a bold prediction, as in the Ed Cooley era PC has only finished outside the top 50 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency four times. Three of those seasons came in Cooley’s first 3 years, the fourth was last year. Providence finished 74th KenPom’s AdjD last season. The additions of Durham and Minaya should help the cause, they both come from defensive minded programs in IU and South Carolina respectively. Also the fact this team was able to spend the whole summer getting better together under the tutelage of the staff will help their team defense.
- Friars will be Top 25, in Free Throw shooting– Let me take you back to the 2013-2014 season. It was the year the Providence Crier was born, after PC lost a heart breaker to UNC. That team was stacked, they had Cotton, Henton, Kadeem Batts, Tyler Harris and even Kris Dunn (albeit he only played 4 games due to the shoulder injury). One of my favorite things about that team? Their ability to make free throws. PC ranked 2nd in the nation that year in free throw percentage, hitting at a 78.1% clip. It was so refreshing to see a team make their freebees with great consistency. No surprise that team was able to make a run and win the Big East Tournament. Last year PC ranked 206th in FT shooting at 70%. This year’s team is a veteran group and think they will rank top 25 in free throw shooting, hitting north of 74%.
- Friars win the 42nd Big East Conference Tournament- Speaking of the Big East Tournament, my last bold prediction is that the Friars will cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden. Think it is very fitting for the Crier, who is setting no expectations for the season, to have this take. The reason being is because anyone can make a run at MSG and win the damn thing. Don’t believe me? Just look to last year when the 8th seeded Georgetown Hoyas cut down the nets. Again we have a veteran ball club, that could be on the bubble heading into the BET, lets go on another run!