Temple has the talent to win a fourth Atlantic Ten Conference tournament title in five seasons.

But the 21st-ranked Owls (24-6) realize talent alone won't lead them to another championship.

"We have to play physically tough and mentally tough," said center Micheal Eric, whose squad is the top seed of the tourney at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall. The first round was played at campus sites. The tournament next year will be held in Brooklyn.

According to Eric, a 23-year-old graduate student, the Owls really need to show that toughness in Friday's noon quarterfinal against eighth-seeded Massachusetts.

"We can't slip up," Eric said, recalling the 90-88 overtime victory over the Minutemen (21-10) on Feb. 29. "We have to be really focused for 40 minutes."

The winner will advance to Saturday's 1 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Friday's St. Joseph's-St. Bonaventure game.

The final is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Chaz Williams will do his best to deny Temple.

The 5-foot-9 redshirt sophomore point guard is arguably the quickest playmaker in the A-10.

The first-team all-conference selection led the A-10 in assists (6.4 per game) and ranked third in steals (2.3) in the regular season.

The Brooklyn native also led the Minutemen in scoring (16.2 points per game), three-point shooting (40.3 percent), and free-throw shooting (78 percent).

In the overtime setback against Temple, Williams made 5 of 7 three-pointers to finish with 26 points.

He also had 11 assists, eight rebounds, and four steals.

"Ah, man, we were really nervous, especially with Chaz Williams," Eric said of the Hofstra transfer. "He put us on our heels and made us play uncharacteristic basketball."

But that was in the final home game of the season. The Owls believe things are different. Having won the conference's regular-season title, Temple is determined to add another tourney crown.

"This is a great achievement for our team," Temple guard Ramone Moore said of the Owls' first outright regular-season title since 1990. "But we are not finished yet. The most important part comes ... in the Atlantic Ten tournament.

"We just want to go out there and play our best basketball and see how far we can go."

Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pompeysgridlock. Read his blog at www.philly.com/OwlsInq.