Joe Lunardi, ESPN's resident bracketologist has released his preseason bracketology
. Featured in the first bracketology of the season are three Philadelphia schools, and two Big 5 programs.
Temple is coming in as a 12 seed while Saint Joe's and Drexel are early 10 seeds. I expect Saint Joe's to have a much improved season from last year, while Temple and Drexel continue to surge into the national spotlight. A sleeper team to watch is LaSalle. They have the potential to make a run in the A-10 and possibly go dancing come the end of the season. Not much can be said for Penn and Villanova this year. They are both in the process of rebuilding after much of their starters have left over the past few seasons.
It is going to be an exciting year of basketball in the city. Look for Whiz Wit's Big 5 preview in the coming weeks.-Tristan Tschoepe
Follow Tristan on Twitter @tshope122
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports
The Temple Owls have turned heads in recent years. They are a combined 26-12 in football over their last three seasons while going 2-for-2 in bowl games during that span. Their football program, sparked by former coach Al Golden, has turned around and continues to look up under current coach Steve Addazio. Temple men’s basketball? Well they are as steady as ever. This season they are 21-5 and lead the Atlantic 10 as they head to Tom Gola Arena for a battle
against the upstart La Salle Explorers tonight. Could Temple be considering a shakeup that would affect their entire sports program? The answer to that question is yes. Per Peter Thamel of the New York Times,
they are having discussions about switching from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East in all sports, “The Big East is in discussions to add Temple for all sports as early as the next school year, according to someone briefed on the talks. Temple belongs to the Mid-American Conference and the Atlantic 10 in various sports and there are legal issues that have to be dealt with before the Owls would be able to leave. A resolution is expected this month.
Within the next month, Temple will also have to inform the new conference formed by the merger of the Mountain West and Conference USA of its intentions. Temple has been asked to join that league.”
This is terrible news for the rest of the Atlantic 10 but great news for Temple. The move to the Big East will be beneficial for both the basketball and the football programs. -Steve Dolan
Follow Steve on Twitter @SDolan3
Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports
(Courtesy of Audrey: Wikipedia)
Wednesday night’s matchup between La Salle and Temple is not only an important game in the Atlantic 10 Conference—it has Big 5 implications as well. The Explorers host the Owls in what will be the second matchup between these two schools this season. The Owls won the first 76-70 behind 19 points from Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and 17 from Ramone Moore. The Owls will make the short trip up Broad street (and one left) to 20th and Olney riding a ten game winning streak that has put them back in the AP Top 25. The #22 Temple Owls have won six in a row against the Explorers dating back to the 2009-2010 season.
Scouting the Owls (21-5): Temple’s outstanding back court of Khalif Wyatt, Juan Fernandez, and Ramone Moore have sparked the Owls recent success. Moore has emerged as a legitimate contender for Big 5 player of the year averaging over 18 points a contest, while also contributing 3.3 assists—often from the two guard position. Wyatt would be the primary scorer on most teams; however, the Owls aren’t most teams. The Norristown High grad averages 17 points a game while shooting a scorching 48% from the field. Although only the third scoring option in this loaded back court, Juan Fernandez has been a bit of a disappointment in my eyes. In his senior campaign he is averaging slightly fewer points a game than his sophomore and junior years. He certainly contributes (11.8 ppg, 3.8 apg), but it seems his growth really stopped after his second season on Broad Street.
By Ron Cortes--Philadelphia Inquirer Staff
Temple has again staked its claim as the best team in the city. A convincing 85-72 over preseason front-runner Xavier was the Owls 8th straight win and should garner them a spot in the top 25 poll to be released later today.
Temple's back court drives this team; but specifically, the play of Ramone Moore has been outstanding. The back-to-back Philahoops player of the week
, Moore scored 30 points against Xavier. In the two Owl victories last week Moore shot an incredible 50% (15-30) from the field and 80% from the line (17/21).
Moore appears to be the favorite for Big 5 player of the year, and is certainly making his case for the same honor in the Atlantic 10. Meanwhile Xavier continues their inconsistent play after their brawl with crosstown rival Cincinnati. A team many expected as an Elite 8, if not final four, team now finds themselves in a log jam in the middle of the A-10 fighting for a first round bye to Atlantic City.How about those Dragons?
I admit I was not a believer of Drexel coming into this season. However, it's hard not to be impressed by what the dragons have done recently. Their last loss came at Georgia State (who is 17-9) on January 2nd. The Dragons find themselves in a three way tie for first place in the Colonial and could separate themselves from the pack with their relatively easy remaining colonial opponents (William and Mary, JMU, and Old Dominion).
Drexel needs to win the CAA Conference Tournament because their status as an at-large is very uncertain. Their non-conference wins are unimpressive (and that's being kind). Perhaps their biggest win was a home game against Princeton. They lost crucial games to St. Joe's and a very good Virginia team by sizable margins. The Dragons could help their at-large resume with an ESPN BracketBuster's game at Cleveland State next Saturday morning. A win against the Vikings is an absolute must if Drexel is make the tournament, should they lose in the CAA.
Two of Drexel's remaining game are at home, where they receive an incredible boost from their raucous student section, the DAC Pack.
If they can continue their winning ways inside the Colonial and receive a top seed in the conference tournament the road to the NCAA will be much easier for the Dragons.
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.
Yesterday was an incredibly big day for Philly's Big 5 there was some news out of La Salle, Temple traveled down to Texas in a nationally televised game, and of course the Holy War took place for the first time ever at St. Joe's Hagan Arena.
St Joe's beat down the visiting Wildcats 74-58, exploding after holding only a three point lead at the half. The Hawks were led by their backcourt (and their leading scorers), in Langston Galloway and Carl Jones. Galloway dropped 20 points while dishing out 6 assists, while Jones chipped in 15 points and 4 assists. The game was marked by highlight reel plays made by sophomore big man, and Plymouth Whitemarsh product, C.J. Aiken. Aiken showed his shot blocking prowess by knocking away 4 Wildcat shots, and helped blow the game open with a thunderous second half slam. As good as St. Joe's looked, Nova looked terrible. They shot only 33% from the field, while going 5 for 27 from outside the arc (18%). Guard Maalik Wayns was the only Wildcat in double figures with 19 points; however, he shot a total of 8 for 25 from the field. St Joe's improves to 8-3, while Vilanova falls to 6-5. The St. Joe's win eliminates Nova from a chance at the Big 5 title. The winner will by St Joe's, La Salle, or Temple--most likely which ever one wins out in the remaining city rivalry games. Villanova is back in action on Thursday night as they host American at the Pavilion, while St. Joe's hosts Coppin State on Wednesday.
courtesy of Philly.com
Temple was on the road yesterday playing a young, but very talented Texas squad. Texas was able to wear down the injury plagued Owls, defeating them 77-65 despite a 3 point Temple lead at half time. Temple was led by Norristown high school graduate Khalif Wyatt who shot better than 50% from the field, contributing 24 points. The Owls generally superior defense wore down against the bigger more physical Longhorns in the second half. Role player Clint Chapman had 7 points while grabbing 13 rebounds against the undersized Owls. Also, C.J. Aiken's former high school teammate Jaylen Bond had 12 points for Texas. The Owls fall to 6-3 on the year and travel to Rice on Monday night.
News came out of 20th and Olney on Friday that redshirt freshman center Matt Lopez would be leaving the team for personal reasons. His decision to transfer frees up a scholarship spot on the Explorers that according to sources has already been filled by sophomore guard Tyrone Garland who is transferring from Virginia Tech. Garland was averaging 4.6 points in less than 10 minutes per game with his season high of 18 coming against Monmouth. The Explorers are back in action on Monday when they travel to play Delaware.
The only Big 5 team not to make any news this week was the Penn Quakers. Penn was dormant during this weekend, and hosts Marist on Friday at the Palestra after a 13 day break.
The Hall of Big 5 Basketball
The Big 5 season gets underway tonight as the Temple Owls visit the Penn Quakers at the palace of college basketball, the Palestra. Penn is fresh off a season opening 59-45 win over the UMBC Retrievers on Friday night. For Temple tonight marks the opening of their 2011-2012 campaign.
For Penn look to their experienced backcourt led by star Zack Rosen, who put in a 26 point effort in the win over the Retrievers. Penn also relies heavily on Tyler Bernadini, 10 points against UMBC, and Miles Cartwright, 4 points and 5 rebounds. Their backcourt aside the Quakers are a very young team, meaning quite a few players will be seeing their first Big 5 action.
Temple, though not ranked to start the year, looks to continue on its breakthrough to the round of 32 in last year's tournament with another strong regular season. The Owls will be led by experience this year with Juan Fernandez, Kaliff Wyatt, and Ramone Moore all returning. Look for the Owls to dominate the Quakers through their spped and their size. Temple should control the paint both offensively and defensively. Coach Fran Dunphy has been known to emphasis defense and this year should be no exception. Tip-off is set for 7:00.Prediction: Temple 74 Penn 56
It's finally here. The College basketball season will get under way in only a few short days. Hope spring eternal for every team as non-Conference play begins. The Big 5 has been a tradition since 1954 featuring classic battles between Penn, La Salle, St. Joe's, Temple, and Villanova. In recent years the Big 5 has began to decline in prominence; however, the rivalries still matter. Three of these teams play in the Atlantic 10 (why St. Joe's and La Salle do not play twice in the A-10 baffles me) and conference games that count as a Big 5 game only adds to the drama. It allows these 5 city schools, all with storied pasts, a chance to play each other and definitively declare a champion of Philadelphia each and every year. So without further adieu here is the preview of the 2011-2012 Big 5:
As a student at one of the country's largest universities, I have had to defend Philly fans as a whole. Countless times I have been told that "Philly fans are the worst!" or "Philly fans are the most obnoxious" bunch of blah blah blah...
Yes Philly fans have a "bad" reputation. But defending it hasn't been hard. I usually respond with the "well that's just a select group of fans" or "well the guy (an away fan) was probably being just as obnoxious" or when people point out that we as philly fans threw snowballs at Santa< "well he was skinny and drunk. You would've thrown snowballs at him too."
If you watch the Penn State vs. Temple game on TV, or were at the game, you saw that there was a very large amount of Penn State fans there. And for the Penn State fans that were not Philadelphia natives their eyes were opened to the "foulness" of the Philadelphia fan base. It was obnoxious and I have never seen anything like that at any kind of sporting event.
Two events stuck with me, and probably many other visiting Penn State fans, the most:
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Lasky
- Temple fans wore this gem of a shirt - on the front saying "We Are" and the back saying "F**K YOU."
Ok? Cool? The Owl giving the finger adds a nice touch as well.
- During the game, after Temple made a "big" play, the Temple student section started a "F**k Penn State" chant. Again, completely unnecessary. And I hope it felt even better after Penn State came back and won. Best of all, a few rows in front of me was a lone Temple fan sitting among a bunch of Penn State supporters. After several good Temple plays he would stand, yell, mock, and flip off all Penn State fans around him. Yet he was seen hands in his face crying after the game. Much to the delight of my friends and I.
Photo courtesy of John Tecce
So basically, Temple fans (and I hate grouping everyone together - my dad and uncle went to Temple - but this was the majority of the fans I saw) thanks for helping open people's eyes to the horrors of going to a game as an away fan in Philadelphia. It was kind of embarrassing to see from an away fan point of view. I can no longer defend Philadelphia fans to people who went to the game as Penn State fans, because I have no response for what I witnessed. And I've heard this is not the first time that Temple fans have crossed the line?
Have you seen other acts like this form any fan base? How over the line do you think these specific instances were?
As we begin to inch closer to the start of yet another season of college basketball the schedules for the area's Big 5 teams have been released. Here are Villanova, Temple, La Salle, Penn and St. Joe's basketball schedules (ordered in how they finished last year in the Big 5)