Temple starting forward Michael Eric is out for the season with a fractured right patella, the school announced Thursday night.
Eric injured his right knee at practice on Tuesday. The 6-11 junior averaged 7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blockes in 20 minutes per game. Starting center Lavoy Allen missed Saturday's win at Dayton with a sprained ankle, but should be back in the lineup.
The 23rd-ranked Owls have won their last four, come in at 20-6, 9-2. Xavier is in first place, with one conference loss.
It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Temple doesn’t figure to lose many games between now and the NCAA Tournament.
The Owls (19-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10) host Richmond (20-6, 9-2) tonight. They haven’t lost at home in awhile. They lost at Richmond last season. If they can beat the Spiders, the rest of the A-10 schedule reads Saint Joseph’s at home, at George Washington and Massachusetts and vs. La Salle at the Liacouras Center. Of course there’s that trip to Duke next Wednesday, which would be asking a lot for anyone, but that’s not going to hurt the old RPI. And maybe they pull the upset. Stranger stuff has occured.
I don’t know if Lavoy Allen is going to play against Richmond, or how effective he’ll be, but the Owls won at Dayton without him. So we’ll see. It’s hard to go against Fran Dunphy late in the season. All you have to do is look at what his guys have done the last few seasons. The stretch runs have mostly been dominant. At least until the Madness arrives. But that’s getting a little ahead of the storyline.
In the A-10 tourney, I think the Owls will again be the team to beat regardless of where they’re seeded. If they play Xavier or Duquesne, this time it won’t be on the road. And the only other team that I think can take them out is Richmond. Other than that, the A-10 ain’t much. I realize anything can happen, but Dunphy is 9-0 in Atlantic City for a reason.
If the Owls do win a fourth consecutive title, they could have 27 wins heading into the NCAAs. Not quite as good as last season, but pretty close. And it’s out there for them. It would be quite a back-to-back. Still, no matter what transpires before Selection Sunday, this team will be judged by how it does in the field of 68. Just because. And they know it.
Right now, ESPN’s Mr. Bracketology has them as the sixth seed in the Southeast Region, opening against Kansas State in Washington, D.C. Comparatively, Villanova is currently a No. 4 in the Southwest drawing Valpariso, also in the nation’s capitol. There’s obviously room for movement, either way. If the Wildcats don’t start playing better, they could be a 5 or maybe even a 6. And if the Owls keep winning, there’s a chance they could up a rung or two. Last year they were a 5. We all know it didn’t turn out well.
This team might not be quite as good defensively, although a healthy Allen always makes a difference and they locked things down pretty good against the Flyers in his absence. But it does have more scoring weapons, despite the fact that Juan Fernandez has struggled. Ramone Moore, Scootie Randall and Khalif Wyatt have all shown they can put up numbers. And that’s been as much of a problem as anything in the three NCAA losses. It doesn’t hurt to be able to do a bunch at both ends.
The pressure will be large, no doubt. But I find it hard to believe that the Owls would be around a 5 seed again and not get at least one win. Two would obviously be even nicer. First things first, though. The upcoming 3 weeks should only add to their resume.