The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
UConn, Providence rivalry in Big Apple after 25 years
STORRS — “Arrogant fans.” Jim Calhoun’s famous Ryan Gomes rant. A tiff over a girlfriend. A less-than warm welcome back to the Big East. $2 beer night.
There has been a lot of drama between the UConn men’s basketball team and Providence, two of the original seven members of the Big East, over the years. Very little of that drama has ever transpired at Madison Square Garden.
Despite being conference mates for 37 of the past 44 seasons, the Huskies and Friars have only met in the Big East tournament four times. That’s less than any of UConn’s fellow original Big East members, Georgetown and Seton Hall (eight meetings each) St. John’s (six), and even since-departed Syracuse (14) and Pittsburgh (seven). Heck, the Huskies faced Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference tournament as often as they’ve faced Providence in the Big East tourney.
The programs are 2-2 in Big East tournament bouts. The rubber match comes Thursday at 2:30 p.m., when fourth-seeded UConn faces the slumping, fifth-seeded Friars.
It will be the first conference tourney meeting between the schools in 25 years. And it will be electric.
UConn and Providence don’t like each other too much. Providence fans seemingly consider the Huskies one of their main rivals. UConn fans have been loathe to embrace it, preferring to focus on Villanova, even Syracuse or Duke as their main rivals. But Husky fans seem to be coming around, particularly lately.
PC coach Ed Cooley has had a lot to say about the UConn over the past few years. In October 2019, Cooley wasn’t too happy about the Huskies’ immi