It’s Basketball Championship Week in the Big East, Atlantic 10 and Rhode Island Interscholastic League.Mike discusses the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and the high school basketball championships with RIPR's Dave Fallon.
Local favorites Providence College and the University of Rhode Island are in New York for the college tournaments, and the top four teams in boys and girls basketball will be at URI for high-school Final Four action this weekend.
Here’s a look:
PC (21-10, 11-7) is the defending champion, but huge potholes threaten a Friars repeat. Fourth-seeded PC must play fifth-seeded St. John’s (21-10, 10-8) in a quarterfinal Thursday afternoon at 2:30 at Madison Square Garden. Here’s the problem for Providence with that matchup. St. John’s won, 83-70, at the Dunk on Jan. 14 and 75-66 at MSG on Jan. 31.
On the plus side, if history means anything in basketball tournaments, PC is 4-2 against St. John’s in the Big East Championship. But those were different teams in different times.
If the Friars beat the Red Storm, they most likely would play top-seeded and fourth-ranked Villanova in the semifinals Friday night. Here’s the problem for Providence with that matchup. This season Villanova won, 74-68, at the Dunk and 89-61 at home.
And here’s another pothole to consider. PC is only 5-4 since Feb. 1, hardly a torrid approach to the post-season. The 68-64 loss to Butler on Saturday hurt because it was Senior Day and it dropped PC from a potential No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed and the date with St. John’s.
On a side note, Friars LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn earned unanimous first-team All-Big East recognition, a program first. In addition, Dunn is co-defensive player of the year with Sir’Dominic Pointer of St. John’s and Henton a finalist for the Julius Erving Award as the nation’ best small forward.
URI (21-8, 13-5) is heading to the Barclays Center as the No. 3 seed of the Atlantic 10 Championship. The Rams are on a roll, having won 7 of their last 10 games. One of their three losses was a one-point heartbreaker to top-seeded Davidson.
URI will play a quarterfinal Friday night at 9 against No. 6 George Washington, No. 11 Duquesne or No. 14 Saint Louis. The good news is the Rams beat GW by four, Duquesne by one and Saint Louis twice, by 12 and by 13. They should feel confident no matter whom they play.
The semifinals will be Saturday afternoon and the championship game Sunday afternoon.
Four Rams have received All-A-10 honors. Sophomores Hassan Martin and E.C. Matthews made the second team, Jared Terrell the all-rookie team, Martin the all-defensive team and senior Gilvydas Biruta the all-academic team.
A new state champion will walk out of the Ryan Center at URI Sunday night because Bishop Hendricken, the 2014 champ, lost to North Kingstown by four points in the quarterfinals last Sunday at Providence College. The fifth-seeded Skippers, always a title contender, will take on top-seeded Barrington in the second semifinal Saturday at 6 p.m. Second-seeded La Salle will play sixth-seeded Mount Pleasant Saturday at 4.
Mount Pleasant snapped North Providence’s 24-game winning streak with a 17-point victory in the quarterfinals. Barrington rolled over Smithfield by 21, and La Salle beat Juanita Sanchez by 15.
The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 6.
Three parochial schools and a Division II public school will battle in the girls semifinals Saturday afternoon at the Ryan Center. Second-seeded Bay View will play third-seeded St. Raphael at 12, and eighth-seeded Juanita Sanchez will meet fifth-seeded La Salle Saturday at 2.
Bay View punched its semifinal ticket with its 18-point victory over Coventry in the quarterfinals last Saturday. La Salle routed East Greenwich by 23, and St. Ray’s defeated Chariho by 16.
In the other quarterfinal Juanita Sanchez, the Division II champion, upset top-seeded Barrington, the Division I champ, 63-59, behind the outstanding play of seniors Davida Dale and D’Asia Allen. Dale, who has committed to Syracuse, scored 28 points and Allen 23. Sanchez has won 15 in a row since Dale joined the team in mid-January after sitting out the required time because she had transferred from St. Andrew’s, the Barrington prep school. She was All-State at La Salle, where she played for two years. She spent her junior year at St. Andrew’s.
This is the first year Rhode Island girls are playing for an open state championship. RIIL officials wanted more parity before sponsoring an open tournament. The final is set for Sunday at 3:30 at the Ryan Center.