Providence College is going to the NCAA basketball tournament for the third consecutive year. That’s the good news.
The eighth-seeded Friars (23-10) will play ninth-seeded Southern California (21-12) in the first round of the East Regional Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C. If they win, they will most likely face top-seeded North Carolina (28-6) in the second round. That’s the bad news. The Tar Heels will be heavy favorites in their opener against the Florida Gulf Coast-Fairleigh Dickinson play-in winner.
PC has not won a game in the tournament since 1997. Two years ago the Friars lost to North Carolina, and last year they fell to Dayton.
This season Providence finished 10-8 and fourth in the Big East. Southern Cal was 9-9 and sixth in the Pac-12.
This will be PC’s 18th NCAA appearance. The program is 14-18 with Final Four showings in 1973 and 1987. The Trojans last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2011. This will be their 17th appearance, and they own a tournament record of 11-19 with Final Four finishes in 1940 and 1954, the days when the National Invitational Tournament was the big deal in college basketball.
The PC-USC game is the fourth on the schedule Thursday night and will probably start no earlier than 10 p.m.