There’s a Friar in the ‘First Four,’ but Is There a Cinderella?
March 15, 2017 -- Let the play-in madness begin! On Wednesday night, as the NCAA Tournament’s opening round continues, the Providence College men’s basketball team is one of four trying to punch its ticket to the first round of the big dance. The Friars, who have a won-loss record of 20-12, need a victory over the University of Southern California (USC) in Dayton, OH, to advance to play No. 6 seed Southern Methodist University. In 2016, Providence beat USC in the first round before losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
“It feels kind of strange drawing the same first opponent in the tournament,” former Fenwick Friar Tom Planek ’14 says of the Trojans. The “First Four” experience feels special, he adds, “because there were no expectations of us making the 2017 tournament. It’s kind of cool to be one of the last four at-large bids.”
The 6’6” Oak Park native is a reserve forward who walked onto the Big East’s founding program in Rhode Island three years ago, after earning a St. Catherine of Siena honors scholarship that covers 60% of his tuition. (Planek scored a 31 on the ACT.) Now a junior finance major, the student-athletic looks back on his Fenwick experience as paying dividends for his collegiate academic and basketball pursuits.
“Some of my classmates talk about how easy high school was for them,” Planek notes. “Not me! I tell them that where I went to high school was even harder than college” because, in some respects, it was. “Being a young kid and having to balance homework every night on top of practice time is challenging.” Challenge accepted -- and met.
Good luck, Friars!