Temple the cream of the A-10 cropby Joseph Birmingham
I posted on 12/12/09 when Temple was about to face Villanova and called the Owls the surprise victors in the game. They went ahead to win. I expected them to be a strong team this year but have to admit I am impressed with their recent efforts as they have compiled a 6 game winning streak down the stretch. They are currently ranked 16th nationally and may have a serious impact before they are through.
Everyone expected the Wildcats to be a final four team, but don’t forget our Owls. We are truly blessed to have 4 or 5 of the best teams anywhere playing locally this year. Temple has measured up to the task and actually are one victory up on Villanova with at 25-5 record to lead the Atlantic 10 conference. Except for a loss to Charlotte, they have played at top level for months.
Granted, the A-10 schedule is certainly not as strenuous as the Big East one the Wildcats have slogged through to arrive at 24-5 and a 9th place ranking. But if the two teams were to meet in the championship tournament, I believe Temple still stands even odds at pulling off another upset victory.
They beat Saint Louis today 57-51 and face George Washington in the season finale. The Atlantic-10 may place 4 teams in the tournament, whereas the Big East could send a record 9 teams to the show, and they would all be deserving of the chance.
Temple won’t go nearly as far as Villanova can, this was proven out when the Owls faced the #1 Kansas Jayhawks 2 months ago and got demolished. But historians won’t forget the Temple club that BEAT the then #1 Jayhawks in the Jimmy V Classic in 1995. So, that shows it can be done. The question is, how much heart does this Owls team have ?
If the last few weeks is any indication, the Wildcats don’t have as much heart as was suggested early on, when they were an early pick to go to the final four. Now they are ranked 3rd in their conference and Syracuse showed their weaknesses when they took them apart on February 27th. Villanova NEEDS a win against a very tough Mountaineers team for their season finale after posting a 4-4 record over the past month.
Toughness of conference notwithstanding, I would say their records of late show these two teams to be headed in opposite directions. The Owls are coming together and peaking as March Madness approaches while the Wildcats are choking somewhat under the pressure coming down the stretch. I can’t wait to see the complete bracket seedings to see what kind of matchups may occur this year. The local rivalries will produce some of the best games we will see and these will come early in the tournament rather than later. If we end up witnessing a Temple/Villanova matchup, I am surprised to proclaim my pick will be the Owls, to win, again !
NOTES: Temple is 6th all time in wins while Villanova ranks 20th.
Villanova won their only tournament matchup against Temple 77-69 in the first round.