Saturday, November 28, 2015

Curry vs. Christmas, Temple vs. Xavier

A star-studded HORSE showdown and live coverage of what could be the Owls' biggest game yet this season.

Curry vs. Christmas, Temple vs. Xavier


I have another confession to make.

When I first laid out the field for the Fantasy HORSE Invitational, my criterion for seeding the players was average points per game.

That resulted in a first-round matchup between Davidson's Stephen Curry and Temple's Dionte Christmas, and I really wanted to avoid having one of the tournament's biggest stars knocked out in the first round. So I re-seeded the players based on True Shooting Percentage.

But somehow, I was stuck with a Curry-Christmas matchup again. Then I noticed that it would fall on the same night as the Temple-Xavier game, and I knew it was meant to be. So here we go.

There's a decades-long history of great players and teams from across the country that have made pilgrimages to the Palestra to face off against a Big 5 power. And while those kinds of nights have been less frequent in recent years than they were in the City Series' heyday, our third matchup in the Fantasy HORSE Invitational carries all the glitz and glamor of those winter nights gone by.

Unlike the stars of bygone eras, Stephen Curry does not have his picture on the Palestra concourse's walls. In fact, Davidson hasn't played a game anywhere in the states of Pennsylvania or New Jersey since Curry arrived on campus in 2006.

But there can be no questioning his status as mid-major basketball's most super-sensational PTP'er and as the YouTube idol of underdog worshippers across the land.

Curry's legions of fans have good reason for their devotion. The junior guard's average 28.9 points per game is the highest in Division I, and Curry's flair for the dramatic three has seared his baby-faced smile onto television highlight shows throughout the season.

But across the floor stands a player fully capable of denying Curry this tournament's crown. Dionte Christmas is unquestionably the Big 5's sharpest marksman, and knows the Palestra's rims like the back of the hands that have helped lift the hallowed Temple basketball program back to national prominence.

So the stage is set. The Palestra is jam-packed, from Ed Rendell's courtside chairback seat to the barely-lit bleachers underneath the strobe lights. The AP's Jack Scheuer declared "corners" before the ball racks were on the floor.

As you look back at the blog transcript of Temple's 83-74 loss at Xavier - in which Christmas had a far quieter night than his team needed - I also ask you who will win our star-studded HORSE showdown.

Fantasy HORSE Invitational Game 3
3. Stephen Curry, Davidson
6. Dionte Christmas, Temple
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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald
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