Nate Watson and the Friars (18-2) face two road games this week (Photos: Louriann Mardo-Zayat)
This week’s Associated Press Top 25 is out and the Providence Friars have moved up two spots to No. 15. This is the seventh straight week the Friars are ranked and ties for the highest mark of the season.
PC enjoyed a strong week with a road win at No. 21 Xavier and at home vs. No. 22 Marquette to improve to 18-2 on the year. This is the best start to a Providence season since the 1976-77 team began 18-2. With a win Tuesday at St. John’s, the Friars would own the best start to a campaign since the 1972-73 team carried a 27-2 record into the Final Four in St. Louis.
The Friars will be favored in their next three games: at St. John’s, at Georgetown and home vs. DePaul. Further wins would pave the way for a shot at a Top 10 ranking for the first time since the 2016 team rose to No. 8 in January of 2016.
The Big East remains tied with the Big Ten and Big 12 for the most Top 25 teams with Villanova (#12), PC (#15), Connecticut (#17), Xavier (#21) and Marquette (#24).
The following teams lost games last week (previous ranking):
3. Arizona, 4. Baylor, 5. Kansas, 10. Michigan St., 13. Texas Tech, 15. Southern Cal
16. Ohio St, 18. Tennessee, 19. LSU, 21. Xavier, 22. Marquette, 25. Davidson
In other PC news, forward Justin Minaya was honored as the BIG EAST Player of the Week
Minaya’s all-around contributions helped the Friars to a pair of wins against ranked league opponents while playing all 80 minutes in the two games. The forward had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks in a 65-63 win against No. 22 Marquette. In a 65-62 victory at No. 21 Xavier, Minaya had six points, six boards and four blocked shots. He excelled defensively, drawing the toughest assignments in both contests.
Minaya spent much of the last two games guarding Xavier’s Paul Scruggs and Marquette’s Justin Lewis, two of the top players in the Big East. According to PC Sports Information, opponents are shooting just 27.3 percent (35-128) from field when being guarded by Minaya.