Listen closely. If you are a high seeded team, or even if you're the favored team to win in the first or second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it is very important that you stay away from Providence. Run the other way. Promise me you will. Even if you're good at something, like, say, cooking or landscaping. You will find, suddenly, that your powers are nullified when you cross the Rhode Island state line.
There's something strange afoot in Providence. Earlier today, Robert Morris led Villanova practically the entire game before the Wildcats rose back up to beat them in overtime. Directly afterward, the Saint Mary's Gaels took on the favored seven-seed Richmond Spiders and not only edged them off the table, but soundly beat them to progress to a matchup Saturday against Villanova.
To put it in the most basic terms, your pre-determined reputation of basketball prowess is not recognized at Dunkin' Donuts Arena. Why else would even a floundering number two seed (it's still a number two seed, for crying out loud) have this much trouble with a 15 seed? How could a scrappy Saint Mary's team which, by all accounts, was not the favorite to be here at all, have taken a flat-out rolling Richmond down so handily?
Oh, you want more proof? In an evening session game that should have been an absolute massacre, a very strong Georgetown team faced the Ohio Bobcats, who tanked their conference season in the MAC only to put together an unbelievable run and clinch the conference championship. I myself, in a move I now freely admit I was wrong about, declared on this very blog that Ohio didn't stand a chance. But I should have remembered that this is Providence. And apparently, anything can happen in Providence.
I'm not even sure Bobcats head coach John Groce could understand what he was seeing. His boys played unbelievably coolly, with incredibly level heads and a seriousness that never allowed them to even crack a smile or believe what they were accomplishing. Guard Armon Bassett looked like an All-American with 32 points. And in the end, an Ohio University team that has has only seen one prior NCAA Tourney win in 45 years brought it home, a prior number nine seed in the Mid-America Conference,defeated a tough Georgetown team to advance.
And why shouldn't they have? This is Providence. It's magical, topsy-turvy providence. Up is down. Down is up. Cats are dogs. Ohios are Georgetowns.
Tennessee, there's still time to run.