Temple a No. 5 seed in NCAA tournament
Temple knows its seed and site. The Owls are just waiting for an opponent in the NCAA tournament.
Temple (24-7) earned a No. 5 seed in the tournament and will play the winner of the play-in game Wednesday between No. 12 seeds California (24-9) and South Florida (20-13) in the Midwest Region. The Owls will open the tournament Friday in Nashville, Tenn.
Led by coach Fran Dunphy, Temple won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and is in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season. The No. 21 Owls won a second-round game against Penn State last season.
''I'm pleased with it,'' Temple guard Ramone Moore said. ''I've seen a couple of California games. I haven't seen USF too much. I'm pretty sure it will be a nice challenge for us. I'm just excited that we got chosen. And I want to move forward and just prepare for the game.''
Surprisingly, no one else in Temple's city, Philadelphia, will be able to do the same. While Drexel seemed like one of the stronger bubble teams, the Dragons were not invited, and ended up in the NIT. Two other Philadelphia schools - St. Joseph's and La Salle - will join them. And even Penn made the postseason, as the Quakers are headed to the CBI.
But Temple is the only one in the dance, and the Owls need to refocus. After all, they are coming off a disappointing loss to Massachusetts in the A-10 tournament quarterfinals Friday in Atlantic City, N.J., and haven't won more than one game in the NCAA tournament since they advanced to the regional final in 2001 under former coach John Chaney.
Dunphy has some work to do, as well. After all, he has just a 2-13 career record in the NCAA tournament, and he had lost 11 straight tournament games until last season.
''I think a new tournament, a new year, a new challenge,'' Dunphy said. ''I don't think anything from the past will help us necessarily.''
Dunphy didn't think it mattered playing a team coming off only a two-day break.
''You have to play,'' Dunphy said. ''Somebody said, 'Are they going to be tired?' I doubt it.''
Last season, March was all about winning one game for Dunphy, and ending the longest losing streak of any coach in the history of the NCAA tournament. That was accomplished, with a 66-64 victory over the Nittany Lions in Tucson, Ariz., in which guard Juan Fernandez hit a buzzer beater to win it.
This season, the Owls want more.
Under Dunphy, in his sixth season at Temple, the Owls have become a threat to go deep in March. They knocked off then-No. 5 Duke in January, extending a run of consecutive seasons with a win over a top-10 non-conference team to four.
''These guys,'' Dunphy said, ''have deserved this opportunity.''
Moore, Fernandez and Micheal Eric all went 4 for 4 in making NCAA tournaments with the Owls across their careers. They have a bigger four in mind now though: the Final Four.
''We want to do something big,'' Fernandez said, ''for the university.''
History is not on their side, however. The last time the Owls earned a fifth seed, they were bounced by Cornell in the opening round.