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The story of the Providence Friars run to the 1987 Final Four started when they hired Rick Pitino in 1985. Providence won 17 games in his first year as Head Coach played in the NIT. With Billy Donovan and Delray Brooks coming back in '86-87 and the instituting of the 3 point line, Pitino knew big things were coming.
Providence finished 10-6 in the Big East and headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time in nine years. Providence rolled past UAB in the first round and won a close game against Austin Peay to reach the Sweet 16.
A rout of Alabama set up an Elite 8 showdown against Big East rival, Georgetown.
“I told them they were the luckiest bunch of guys I had seen,” Pitino says. “I said, You don’t realize it, but there is only one team that isn’t afraid of you. They’re going to take you so lightly that it will be a cakewalk to the Final Four.”
The result? An easy 86-73 win and a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans.
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