Courtesy of Penn Athletics
There's really no change from last weeks rankings, except St. Joe's has solidified themselves as the number 3 team in the city. However, given the fluidity of this years City 6 squads that could change in the course of one Saturday afternoon.
1. Temple Owls (20-5)
Temple has won 9 straight games and has already reached the 20 win mark. In my opinion, the Owls got shafted by the polls this week. They are playing as good of basketball as anyone in the country and already have two quality wins against ACC opponents (Duke and Maryland). Last night the Owls had an impressive come from behind victory up in Olean, New York against St. Bonaventure 76-70. Owls' leading scorer, Ramone Moore was scoreless at halftime before exploding for 19 in the second. Fran Dunphy's squad now control their own destiny in the Atlantic 10.
1. Temple Owls (LW: 1) 18-5
Temple continued to show that they are the class of the city with three wins since last weeks power rankings. It took a huge effort by Ramone Moore to spark a double digit comeback against George Washington. The Owls now sit in first place in the Atlantic 10; however, the next six games are possibly the toughest part of the Owls conference schedule.
2. Drexel Dragons (LW: 3) 20-5
Drexel keeps on winning--that's 12 in a row for the Dragons. The remainder of the Colonial schedule should not challenge the Dragons with three very winnable game at home, before a trip down to Old Dominion. Perhaps the most important game on the docket is their Bracket Busters trip to Cleveland State.
3. Saint Joseph's Hawks (LW: 5) 15-10
Spots 3 and 4 are really a toss up, but St. Joe's get the edge because of their victory over the Explorers at the Palestra last Saturday. The Hawks followed that win with a disappointing home loss to the surging St. Louis Billikans. St. Joe's might still be a year away from making a run at the NCAA tournament, but this team could make some noise in Atlantic City should Phil Martelli find a solution to their inconsistency.
4. La Salle Explorers (LW: 2) 17-8
The Explorers lost back to back games at St. Joe's and Richmond by a combined total of 6 points. The defensive intensity that carried the team through the first half of season appears to be lacking. However, don't count the Explorers out yet. They are a totally different team inside the tight confines of the Tom Gola Arena (12-0) and if they can get past visiting St. Louis on Saturday they will prove the belong in the conversation of the A-10 elites.
5. Villanova Wildcats (LW: 6) 11-13
Those who did not like last weeks selection of the Wildcats as the worst team in the city should be happy to see that they have moved out of the cellar. In large part due to ending a 3 game losing streak with a comeback against Providence (coupled with a Penn loss). The Wildcats suffered a scary moment with a injury to Maalik Wayns; however, he is listed as day to day.
6. Penn Quakers (LW: 4) 12-10
Penn's only shot at a NCAA Tournament bid was to win the Ivy League and with a loss last Friday night at Yale those hopes came crashing down. The Quakers are going to need a lot of help, including two wins over Harvard--something that does not appear likely to happen.
The Philadelphia Big 5 is back. The past couple of seasons have seen Temple and Villanova battle it out for supremacy of the city, while La Salle, St. Joe’s and Penn all attempted to avoid being the resident cellar-dweller. This season it is mathematically possible that Temple, St. Joe’s and La Salle could all share a piece of the Big 5 title. If I were to leave Drexel out of this conversation I would have a legitimate concern that Bruiser Flint would show up at my door to inform me that his team could beat any of the Big 5 schools. I’m not so sure about that, but I will include Drexel in my City 6 rankings.
Eric's return should boost the Owls
1. Temple Owls (15-5, 4-2)
Temple is still the cream of the crop in Philly. At 15-5 the Owls have positioned themselves for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fail to win the Atlantic 10 tournament in Atlantic city. Temple boasts the 13th best RPI in college basketball, helped substantially by wins over ACC opponents Duke and Maryland. Recently Temple beat city rivals La Salle and St. Joe’s at the Liacouras Center. Though those were not technically Big 5 games they certainly had a city championship environment.
The Owls have been led by Philadelphia products Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt. Moore leads the team in scoring, averaging 17.4 points a game. Wyatt contributes 16 points a game. Scoring has not been a problem for the vaunted Temple backcourt that includes senior Juan Fernandez (11.8 ppg, 4.1 apg), but Coach Fran Dunphy will tell you that the Owls’ success starts on the defensive end. Temple is the second best in the A-10 in opponent’s points per game and third in opponent field goal percentage. The return of inside presence Micheal Eric will only improve the Owls chances of locking up another A-10 title. Temple should continue to move towards the top of the conference with upcoming games against Fordham, Rhode Island and George Washington.