Temple to face Penn State in NIT first round

PENN21
Josh Brown, 2nd from left, and Nate Pierre-Louis, 3rd from left, of Temple celebrate as they go off the court after their 60-51 victory over Penn at the Palestra on Jan 20, 2018.

Temple will visit Penn State in an opening-round NIT game, Wednesday at 8 p.m. (ESPNU).

The Owls (17-15) earned the No. 5 seed in their bracket, while Penn State (21-13) is the No. 4 seed. The winner will move on to play the winner of No. 8 seed Hampton at No. 1 Notre Dame.

Higher-seeded teams host games until the semifinals and finals, which will be March 27 and 29 at Madison Square Garden.

“We are excited to be in this year’s 2018 NIT field,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said in a conference call. “Watching some of the teams that are in it, this is a terrific field with many good teams and many which are feeling they were probably slighted by the NCAA tournament.”

Penn State advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament before losing to Purdue, 78-70.

The Nittany Lions have a heavy Philadelphia-area contingent, beginning with coach Pat Chambers, a graduate of Episcopal Academy.

Also on the roster are 6-foot-10 graduate student Julian Moore of Germantown Academy, 6-9 sophomore Mike Watkins (Phelps School), 6-9 forward John Harrar (Strath Haven) and four Roman Catholic products: 6-2 senior Shep Garner, 6-4 sophomore Nazeer Bostwick, 6-8 sophomore Lamar Stevens and 6-5 sophomore Tony Carr, who averages a Big Ten-best 19.9 points.

“Tony Carr, if you look at mock drafts, is a first-round pick and he is an impressive player,” Dunphy said. “He plays with great ease, pace and confidence.”

Temple beat Tulane, 82-77 in a first-round American Athletic Conference game before losing to Wichita State, 89-81.

This year the NIT will institute a number of new rules, including extending the three-point line approximately 1 foot and 8 inches, the same distance used by FIBA for international competition (22 feet, 1.75 inches).

“That will take an adjustment and we will work at shooting from that range,” Dunphy said.

This will be Temple’s 19th appearance in the NIT. The Owls last played in the NIT in 2015, when they advanced to the semifinals before losing to Miami, 60-57.

It will be Penn State’s first NIT appearance since winning it in 2009.