Since 1963, Providence and Marquette have met 21 times. Three times, they have done battle at historic Madison Square Garden. One time, in 1997, in an NCAA Tournament game the two teams met in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eight times, the Friars have hosted the Golden Eagles.
In those 12 meetings, the Friars and Golden Eagles are at a dead heat. Six wins for Providence College, six wins for Marquette University. Some blowouts, some close games, and some in between.
The game changes, however, when looking into what's happened in Milwaukee.
The 414 hasn't been kind to Providence over the years. In fact, they've just been downright rude. Milwaukee is like a bully to Providence, putting them down at every turn. "You want your ball back? Too bad! I'm gonna kick it." "Oh, you want your balloon? Too bad, I'm gonna pop it." It is the Wolfgang to the Friars' Arnold, harassing them at every corner, throwing them in trashcans and rolling them down hills, and swiftly taking their vacant lot without much of a fight being put up.
The Friars have visited the city of Milwaukee nine times over the years. In all nine meetings, the Friars have lost. An 0-for-9 mark. It wouldn't be good across town at Miller Park, and it's not good at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, either. No matter the sport nor the jersey donned. Bucks, Admirals, the Wave of the MISL, or the Mustangs of the Arena League, may they rest in peace. The Wave as well. 0-for-9 is ugly.
The Friars may feel more comfortable walking into the center of town, below out their distaste for sausages, cheese and beer - what kind of monster would do such a thing? - than they do walking into the 18,850-seat venue on North Fourth Street. It's a house of horrors. Nothing short.
Wednesday night, Providence looks to change course. They visit Milwaukee and Marquette, looking to topple the bully instead of the same old song and dance of having their lunch money taken from them. But the course they travel on has already been set for them.
Painful as it may be, let's take a look back at every defeat the Friars have been handed in Milwaukee.
January 19, 1985: Marquette 64, Providence 58
The final year of the Joseph Mullaney Era ended sourly for Providence as they finished 11-20 with a 3-13 record in the BIG EAST. Marquette had yet to jump ship - that happens 20 years later, of course - but the first loss of nine took place at the old U.S. Cellular Arena, per those fine folks at Sports-Reference.com. There isn't much information about this loss, but who knew back then that this would be just the start of the Friars' woes in Wisconsin?
March 4, 2006: Marquette 88, Providence 78
Senior Day. Marquette finished out their 2005-06 campaign with one to remember as the legendary Steve Novak - namesake! - dropped 20 points including 17 in the second half to down the Friars in their first trip to the Bradley Center. Randall Hanke's 23 points off the bench were not enough to help lift Providence over the likes of Novak, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James on that day, and that would begin a repetitive theme inside the BIG EAST.
February 4, 2007: Marquette 69, Providence 62
MU brought out the big gun for this one, as Dwyane Wade was in the house to see his No. 3 jersey retired at halftime. Did Marquette disappoint the NBA Champ from Miami? Nope. Not a bit. Big days from Sharaud Curry and Herbert Hill could not lift Providence in front of a 44-point effort from Marquette's trifecta of McNeal, Wes Matthews and Dan Fitzgerald. Senior Day and Wade getting his jersey retired in back-to-back years? Frustration begins to set in.
January 4, 2008: Marquette 96, Providence 67
In the most lopsided result for either side to date, Marquette rumbles past Providence to the tune of 96-67. It was the dynamic duo of Dominic James and Lazar Hayward - Isn't that name great? Lazar Hayward. It just rolls off the tongue - who helped fuel the Golden Eagles to victory with Wes Matthews chipping 16 points in and Ousmane Barro adding 14 of his own into the pot as well. 14 different Golden Eagles saw the floor that day and 11 of them scored at least two points. At this point, if you're a Friars fan, it can't get any worse against these pesky Golden Eagles, can it? Can it? ...Hello?
January 17, 2010: Marquette 93, Providence 63
That thing about the most lopsided result? Yeah... that script was flipped two years later with this 30-point thrashing by Marquette in Milwaukee. Hayward, guard Maurice Aker, and future pros Darius Johnson-Odom and the great Jimmy Butler combined for 81 of Marquette's 93 points. 87.1 percent of MU's points were scored by just four players. An absurd result, nothing more, nothing less, as Providence fans had to be fed up by this point.
January 27, 2013: Marquette 81, Providence 71
Marquette won by 10. Vander Blue was terrific on both ends. Davante Gardner, Junior Cadougan and Trent Lockett helped fuel a balanced effort to another win over Providence.
But there's something of importance to talk about here.
Remember that 'house of horrors' reference I made earlier?
You think I'm joking?
This game was stopped several times because a BAT WAS IN THE ARENA!
Sidiki Johnson tried to PUNCH the bat.
Bryce Cotton was CHASED by the bat.
I mean, at this point, what do you DO if you're a Friars fan? Not only is your team losing time after time to an opponent at their home venue. But now, you have to watch as a flying, blood-sucking creature is literally in hot pursuit one of your own players! At this point, I'd probably just give up, or I'd petition for the Friars players to wear garlic chains around their necks or something, anything to combat Dracula from getting involved.
January 30, 2014: Marquette 61, Providence 50
New year, 'new BIG EAST.' Providence marched into Milwaukee, a city they were now guaranteed to go to once a year - terrifying as it sounds now - with hopes of ripping the monkey off their backs.
They did not.
A messy first half led to falling behind 26-10 at the 3:49 mark in the first half. Providence couldn't ever recover, and fell by the score of 61-50. Davante Gardner scored 14, Jamil Wilson 11, Deonte Burton nine and Todd Mayo eight.
"At least there weren't any damn bats" - Friars fans, probably.
January 3, 2015: Marquette 75, Providence 66
A new coach on the sidelines for Marquette didn't stop the domination as Steve Wojciechowski's debut against the Friars was not unlike the previous eight encounters. Marquette, thanks in part to Juan Anderson's brilliant effort (18 points, 6-8 FG) helped push the Golden Eagles over the Friars, 75-66. The most recent installment of this head-to-head series was nothing more of a reminder that Providence still found themselves getting bullied in the city of Milwaukee.
February 10, 2016: Marquette 96, Providence 91 (2OT)
A 42-point barrage by Ben Bentil, a career-high mark, surely would have been enough in theory, you would think. You'd think that after getting pardoned by a missed shot at the buzzer in regulation would give Providence enough juice. You'd think a misstep in late-game possessions in the extra period would lift the Friars enough for a win.
You'd think... but you would be wrong.
Frustratingly enough, the Friars are not winners in Milwaukee for the first time ever after Wednesday night. They fought, and fought hard, but Providence is on the losing side of the coin again as Marquette won 96-91 in double overtime.
No idea what to tell y'all. This even frustrates me, a neutral party.