Not that long ago it looked like Temple’s only chance of getting back into the NCAA Tournament was to win the Atlantic 10 once again.
Upon further review ...
The Owls are 15-9, having won three straight since a loss at Xavier. They have six games left before the A-10 tourney, starting Wednesday against Fordham at the Liacouras Center. Then it’s two more at home, with St. Bonaventure and LaSalle, a trip to Dayton, Saint Joseph’s on North Broad Street and at George Washington.
The only time they won’t be favored is at Dayton.
Right now, the Owls’ RPI is 34. According to ESPN’s Bracketology — which I happen to put a lot of faith in, even though I’m sure many folks will point out that it’s the work of a St. Joe guy — they’re the sixth team out. Just behind Southern Cal, and just ahead of New Mexico. But a bunch of things can change before Selection Sunday. And often does.
Obviously, if Temple can win at Dayton, that would go a long way in helping its cause. Because, barring a total impolosion, Xavier and Dayton are in. It’s important for Temple to at least establish itself as the third-best team in the conference. I’m sick of hearing how the A-10 can’t get more than two teams in. From everything I’ve heard, when the Committee puts Temple’s name on the board, the Owls are being judged on how they stack up against other teams. There aren’t quotas, per ce. So if it comes down to, say, Temple and USC, it’s not A-10 vs. Pac-10.
Anyway, what if the Owls don’t win at Dayton, where the Flyers are nearly unstoppable? Well, if they win the rest of their games, which won’t be easy (especially the two Big 5 matchups, even if they’re at home), then get to the A-10 title game, why wouldn’t they have a legitimate argument?
Obviously, there’s not much margin for error. That’s what losing some of those games in November and December can do (think Long Beach) to a resume. But under that scenario, they would probably have to beat Xavier or Dayton in the A-10 semifinals. That would get them to 22-10, which figures to be bubble territory. So even a loss to X or Dayton in the final will leave them at 22-11. If nothing else, that would certainly make for an interesting discussion.
Much, of course, depends upon what goes on around the country as well. It’s not all in Temple’s hands. But the Owls can do their part, and let the invites fall how they may.
First things first. Fans can look ahead. Players and coaches can’t afford to. Because at this point, all it takes is one false step to take you out of the picture.
And if all else fails, hey, they can always just go 3-0 in Atlantic City. Then, there is no speculation. Funny how that works.