Kadeem Batts

Providence is on their way back to national relevancy

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There may not be a team in the country that is as hot as Providence is right now.

After beating No. 21 Notre Dame 71-54 on Saturday afternoon, the Friars have now won four straight in the Big East, which includes a 54-50 win over then-No. 17 Cincinnati last Wednesday. In fact, if you look at their last 12 games — a stretch where Providence has gone just 6-6, including this four-game winning streak — Providence hasn’t lost by more than 10 points since Louisville visited them on the day after New Years.

When you’re dropping six out of eight, that’s not really all that impressive of a stat.

But when you’re Providence, a team that has been a bottom-feeder in the Big East, it’s most certainly a good sign.

The Friars have been competitive all season long, and now they’re finally learning how to win games. They’ve spent much of this season banged up, two of their most talented additions over the summer — Ricky Ledo and Sidiki Johnson — are not playing right now, and their most talented recruit — Kris Dunn — is actually the third best guard on the roster.

Providence is still at least a year away, but the improvement of this team is inarguable. Ed Cooley has proven that he’s able to recruit, and the Northeast has quite a bit of talent right now, especially when you factor in all the high-powered prep schools in the area.

Providence has been a punch-line during the demise of the Big East and conference realignment.

But if you read between this lines, this is a program that appears ready to return to the national stage.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from Tampabay.com’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.