The joy of joining the AP Top 25 was quickly swept away for Providence, which at the very least needs a convincing win to have any chance at remaining in the rankings.
Following a blowout loss in its first game as a ranked team in 11 years, the No. 25 Friars will also try to keep pace in a packed race for second place in the Big East when they host Marquette on Sunday.
Providence (19-9, 9-6) hadn’t been in the Top 25 since the final poll of the 2003-04 season until Monday’s vote results, but it had little time to celebrate the accomplishment before being dismantled by No. 6 Villanova in an 89-61 road loss the next night.
The Friars allowed the first-place Wildcats to shoot 53.0 percent, including 13 for 25 from 3-point range, and clinch at least a share of their second straight regular-season conference title.
Providence was within six early in the second half before a 23-6 run by the Wildcats. Reserve Tyler Harris scored 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, but the rest of the Friars missed 29 of their 47 shots and point guard Kris Dunn turned the ball over six times.
"I won’t watch this film one bit," coach Ed Cooley said after his team’s worst loss since a 30-point rout at Villanova last January. "It’s one of those games I think every team in the country has. We got our (rear-end) kicked and we’ve got to keep it moving."
The Friars are in a position where claiming the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament requires help and them winning out against Marquette (11-16, 3-12), at Seton Hall on Wednesday and at home against Butler in the regular-season finale next Saturday.
They got some help Saturday when St. John’s dropped Georgetown to 10-6 in the conference, but Butler surged past DePaul to improve to 11-5. While Providence owns the tiebreaker with two wins over the Hoyas, it lost the first meeting with the Bulldogs.
Whereas the top six seeds get first-round byes, only No. 1 and 2 open the tournament with quarterfinal matchups against teams which had to play the previous night and will have entered with sub-.500 conference records.
Before they can start thinking about potential scenarios, however, the Friars need to avenge a 75-66 road loss Jan. 3 to the Golden Eagles, who have since dropped 11 of 13 games, and start reversing a losing trend in the series.
Marquette has won 12 of 14 meetings since joining the Big East in 2005, including three of the last four in Providence, where the Friars are 12-3.
The Golden Eagles fell to 1-8 on the road with a 73-52 loss at No. 23 Butler on Wednesday. Their fourth straight defeat overall dropped them to 0-7 against ranked teams this season and 0-12 since the start of 2013-14.
After missing four games with a concussion, leading scorer Matt Carlino (14.3 points per game) had 10, and Juan Anderson, who leads the team with 6.3 rebounds per game and missed last Saturday’s loss to Villanova with an ankle injury, grabbed no boards.
Marquette has given up 75.3 points per game during its four-game skid after previously allowing 65.7.
"We held Butler to one 3 in the first half and we took a bad shot, had a turnover and when you do those two things you can’t set your defense," coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
A win will give the Friars, who went 23-12 last season and won the Big East tournament as a No. 4 seed, their first back-to-back 20-win campaigns since 1992-93 and ’93-94.