The 1997 NCAA tournament may have been one of the wildest tournaments in the 64/65-team era despite the fact that three one-seeds reached the Final Four in Indianapolis.
Of course that starts with national champion Arizona, who beat three one-seeds (only missing out on Minnesota, who lost to Kentucky in the Final Four) on their way to a national title.
Arizona won the Southeast region that year, and that region also produced Cinderellas Chattanooga and Providence.
Coached by Pete Gillen, the Friars took care of the Mocs before falling to Arizona in overtime in the Elite 8.
On Saturday night Providence College came together to honor the team led by guys such as Derek Brown, Austin Croshere and God Shammgod at the Westin Hotel in downtown Providence.
Those Friars had work to do at the Big East Championship and they did just that, winning two games in New York to sew up a bid to the Big Dance.
And once there the Friars didn’t stop, knocking off 7-seed Marquette, 2-seed Duke and 14-seed Chattanooga before running into the Wildcats.
And according to Corey Wright the Friars had a feeling that once in the tournament they’d be hanging around for a while.
“I remember the excitement of the fans and the send-off rally we had before going to Charlotte,” said Wright. The sophomore guard also remembers how confident he and his teammates were before heading down there to open up tournament play. “I told the fans, we’re gonna do this again next week, same place, same time,” he said. “I knew we were gonna win both games down there.”
Saturday night allowed all involved to retell the stories of 1997, which must have included tales of their comeback from seven down with 1:15 to go in regulation against Arizona.
A Jamel Thomas three tied the game, but what some may have forgotten is the fact that Providence had two shots at the winning basket in regulation.
While neither shot fell and the Friars would ultimately fall short, 1997 was a special year in the annals of Providence basketball.
Unfortunately both Croshere and Brown were unable to attend the event, with Croshere being a color commentator for the Indiana Pacers and Brown dealing with health issues.
Below is a excerpt from Friars All-Access in Februrary, with host Vin Parise discussing plans for the event with athletic director Bob Driscoll and associate AD Steve Napolillo.
Photo credit: Providence Journal