The Friars went 13-4 at the Dunkin Donuts Center and were one of the best home teams in the conference last season, but on the road PC was 6-6. Ed Cooley's bunch will play their most important games in conference with many notable road rematches.
5) Providence at Marquette (February 10th)
The Friars left Milwaukee with a bad taste in their mouths last season when they fell to Marquette. Providence's five-game winning streak had been snapped and the Friars had to get back on track after losing to the last place team in the conference. Matt Carlino and others gave the Friars problems last season, but a new crop of freshmen will be on Coach Ed Cooley's radar.
A matchup to watch out for will be Henry Ellenson vs. Ben Bentil since the Friars will be thin on the back line for most of the season. If Kris Dunn plays well no other matchup will matter in this game, but MU's young crop could make this game a fun watch. Providence will play this game in middle of two huge home games against Villanova and Georgetown so this one is important for the Friars to win.
4) Providence at Xavier (February 17th)
Many teams in the Big East struggled when they played in front of the loud crowds at the Cintas Center a year ago and Providence was no exception. The Musketeers took care of Providence last season with a big second half led by 19 points apiece from Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Bluiett. Providence will have to deal them again in the rematch. Xavier always seems to find a way to win at home so if Providence can pull it out they could put themselves in a great position later on in the season.
This stretch in February will huge for the Friars since they take on against some of the more talented teams in the conference. A road win over Xavier would help make this group of games more manageable. The Musketeers lost some veterans like Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis so the task of winning might be easier, but younger players are getting better for Chris Mack. If the Friars hold off X in the second half they could earn an impressive win.
3) Providence at Butler (December 31st)
Football comes first for many of us so you may not watch this game, but here are some reasons why you should at least DVR it. This matchup last season produced one of Kris Dunn's best performances as he scored 25 points in a 66-62 win for PC over the Bulldogs. Expect a fun game at Hinkle once again. It will be Dunn against one of the best defenses in the conference and a player in Roosevelt Jones that always seems to come up clutch for Butler.
The Bulldogs will looking for revenge after the Friars took them down at their house so expect this game to be physical with lots of fouls. Both teams shot more than 20 free throws in last year's game in Indy and if we are lucky someone will get tackled to the floor on a crosscourt pass. It will seem like you're watching the College Football Playoff Semifinals.
On a more serious note, two teams who are looking to climb to the top of the conference are facing off at one of the most famous venues in basketball. It is a least worth a watch during breaks in the football action.
2) Villanova vs. Providence (February 6th)
The Wildcats were one of the few teams that kept Dunn in check last season during the regular season. In the Big East Tournament however, Dunn had 22 points and was fantastic. Providence still fell to Nova in the tournament semifinals. With that win the Wildcats completed a three-game sweep of the Friars. This game could help decide who wins the conference regular season crown. Providence will be at home and if they do not beat the Wildcats at the Dunk they could get swept again.
Dunn vs. Ryan Arcidiacono. Ben Bentil vs. Daniel Ochefu. Add in Jalen Brunson and we have ourselves a must-watch affair in Rhode Island. This game always seems to come down to the wire.
1) Providence at Georgetown (January 30th)
Before the Friars play Nova they have to battle with the Hoyas in Washington DC. The sophomore core and veteran mix that Georgetown brings to the table faces off against a young Providence group with two All-Conference hopefuls. This game will feature stars all over the place, but Dunn and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera will likely decide who wins this game.
However, this one could also come down to which freshman big man steps up. The Friars are small, but Quadree Smith has the size to be a problem for the Hoyas. Georgetown will counter with their talented center Jessie Govan. If one of them makes a positive impact it could decide the outcome. This game will mark another tough stretch of Providence's schedule that features tough road games, which is why a win here could be vital to the Friar's success.