The No. 8 Syracuse Orange have a date on Wednesday with the suddenly-hot Providence Friars.
The Friars (14-11, 6-7 Big East) came into the Big East season with losses to Boston College and Brown University and continued the losing ways with losses to Louisville, DePaul and Syracuse. In its first nine conference games, Providence would only win two games, but records can be deceiving.
The Friars only lost to Syracuse 72-66 in a game that the Friars led by eight in the first half and didn’t see the Orange pull away until late in the second half. The Friars also lost a heartbreaker to Connecticut in overtime, 82-79, at the end of January, but something about that loss shook Providence in a profound way.
Providence’s good fortunes have primarily come at home with its only in-conference road wins coming at Seton Hall, Villanova and South Florida.
This time around the Friars must travel to the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse (21-4, 9-3) for a second time this season.
In the first game, on Jan. 9, the Orange shot an abysmal 3-of-21 from the three-point line and were saved by incredible free-throw shooting down the stretch to prevent the embarrassing loss.
Since that game, Syracuse has been able to take out each ranked team it has played, including Louisville, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, but has fallen asleep in losses against Villanova, Pittsburgh and Connecticut.
Providence will be the last unranked team Syracuse will play until March 6 when it plays DePaul. In between those games, Syracuse gets No. 11 Georgetown, No. 17 Marquette and No. 10 Louisville.
The DePaul game will be the last Big East game held in the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse will leave the Big East for the ACC next season. Following that game will be Syracuse’s final regular-season game in the Big East with a showdown at Georgetown.
Before Syracuse can worry about any of those games, it must first concentrate on Providence, which is upset minded and has already proven in the first encounter that it is not afraid of the Orange.
What must Syracuse do to stay on task and avoid a Friar upset?
Let’s take a look.