Nova, Temple earn high NCAA seeds
Maybe Temple should have entered the NCAA tournament in a
The three-time defending Atlantic 10 tournament champion Owls
were surprised with their fifth seed in the East Regional and will
play No. 12 seed Cornell (27-4) in the NCAA tournament. Local rival
Villanova shook off a miserable slide and earned the No. 2 seed
Sunday in the South Regional and will play No. 15 Robert Morris
(23-11) in the tournament.
The Owls (29-5) have won 10 straight games, shared the A-10
regular season championship with Xavier and beat Richmond 56-52
earlier Sunday to clinch another conference tourney title.
The Wildcats (24-7) have lost five of seven after a 20-1 start.
The Wildcats, who last won a national championship in 1985, are
trying to reach the Final Four for the second straight year.
Temple defeated Villanova 75-65 in December.
Villanova opens the tournament Thursday in Providence, R.I.
Villanova’s six straight NCAA trips are the second-longest run in
team history, trailing only the seven straight appearances from
1980-86. The Wildcats are 48-30 in 30 overall trips.
“We lost to some good teams at the end of the season and I
think the committee saw that we’re still a very good basketball
team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I think it’s also a
product of maybe some of the success that the previous teams have
had, a kind of respect for the program in the tournament.”
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw called the Owls’ fifth
“Someone said last week that the committee was not at all
interested in how you finished,” Bradshaw said. “There’s no
better examples of that than Temple and Villanova. That might be
Temple opens the tournament Friday in Jacksonville, Fla., trying
to win an NCAA game for the first time since 2001. The Owls, who
have their highest seed since they were No. 2 in 2000, lost
first-round games in 2008 and ’09.
Cornell coach Steve Donahue was an assistant and recruiting
coordinator for 10 years under Temple coach Fran Dunphy at
The Temple-Cornell winner will play the winner of No. 4
Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Wofford. Cornell won the Ivy League
“I think this was a planned endeavor by the committee,” Dunphy
said. “They do some things to have this be a matchup. That’s my
The Owls gathered in front of a few hundred fans at the
Liacouras Center and were cheered when they entered shortly before
the selection show holding the A-10 trophy. Temple’s bracket was
announced first, and the crowd booed when Villanova’s No. 2 seed
flashed on the screen.
“They got a two seed!” Temple forward Lavoy Allen said when
the Wildcats’ bracket was announced.
Dunphy refused to be drawn into a Temple-Villanova debate.
“There’s nothing I can do, I have no control over it, so
there’s no need to worry about it,” Dunphy said.
The Owls are in the tournament for the 28th time and are
Wright made no apologies for the Wildcats’ high seed because of
Villanova’s overall record in the toughest conference in the
country. Villanova, which went 13-5 in the Big East, is a No. 2
seed for the first time in team history.
“It’s not like we got blown out or we didn’t play well. We just
played good teams,” Wright said. “When you look at it, we’re as
deserving as anybody, but if we would have been a three you
couldn’t argue it.”
Guard Scottie Reynolds, whose half-court dash for a last-second
basket against Pittsburgh in last year’s regional final sent
Villanova to the Final Four, was surprised the Wildcats got that
coveted No. 2 seed.
“I like to follow things and see where people say we’re going
to be. I was thinking a three or a four, and then when I saw a two
come up, I was like, ‘All right,”’ Reynolds said. “I think people
are emphasizing too much on the end of the season, but we have
gotten a lot better, and we’re going to just approach it like
This is the second straight Northeast Conference title for
Robert Morris, which also was a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament
last season. The Colonials are the first repeat NEC champion since
Rider won back-to-back conference titles in 1993 and 1994.
The winner will advance to a second-round game on Saturday
against either No. 7 seed Richmond (26-8) or No. 10 Saint Mary’s
Patriot League champion Lehigh, north of Philadelphia in
Bethlehem, Pa., faces No. 1 overall seed Kansas (32-2). The
Mountain Hawks (22-10) are going to the tournament for the fourth
time and earned the automatic bid with a win Friday over