Madness in A.C.: Philly schools vie for A-10 title

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Madness in A.C.: Philly schools vie for A-10 title

Push your chips to the center of the table. Its time for the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals in Atlantic City.

Temple, La Salle and Saint Josephs are three of the eight teams who will make the short trip to Boardwalk Hall starting Friday to face off for a conference championship and an automatic NCAA berth.

The tournament holds a little bit of extra meaning not only because it shifts to Brooklyn next year, but also because this is the second-to-last A-10 tourney for Temple before the Owls bolt for the Big East (see story). Its also a vital one for St. Joes and La Salle if either team hopes to make the NCAA tournament.

Which Philly team are you betting on to win big in A.C.? Heres a breakdown of all three squads.

La Salle Explorers

Record: 21-7

Seed: 7

How they got here: Beat Richmond, 80-72, in first round

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 2 Saint Louis (24-6), Friday, 6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network

Looking ahead: A win over St. Louis would put the Explorers in the semifinals Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against No. 3 Xavier, No. 6 Dayton or No. 11 George Washington.

Theyll go on a deep run if Ramon Galloway emerges as one of the top players in Atlantic City. Its no secret La Salle began to falter in February when Galloway slumped. Its also no secret how much better the Explorers are when the explosive transfer from South Carolina plays at his best. In the Explorers first-round win against Richmond, Galloway sniffed a triple-double with 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. If hes on his game and meshes well with fellow guards Tyreek Duren, Sam Mills and Earl Pettis, La Salle has a backcourt that matches up with any other in the league.

Theyll leave Atlantic City early if They cant control the pace against a Saint Louis team that excels on defense and likes to slow it down on offense. The Billikens are dominant inside with 6-foot-6 Brian Conklin (13.9 ppg) and 6-foot-8 Cody Ellis (10.8 ppg) leading the way, which could present a matchup problem for the Explorers and their four-guard lineup.

Prediction: The Explorers will have an advantage in that theyre traveling nearly 1,000 less miles to get to Atlantic City than Saint Louis. But the Billikens are ranked 12th in the nation in the Pomeroy ratings, one indicator of just how good Rick Majerus team is. La Salle will keep it close but expect a quarterfinal exit for the Explorers.

Saint Josephs Hawks

Record: 20-12

Seed: 5
How they got here: Beat Charlotte, 80-64, in first round

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 4 St. Bonaventure (17-11), Friday, 2:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Looking ahead: A St. Joes win would likely set up a semifinal rematch with top-seeded Temple on Saturday at noon with a berth in Sundays 1 p.m. final on the line.
Theyll go on a deep run if They get strong efforts across the board from their five all-league players guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forwards C.J. Aiken, Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic. In their first-round rout of Charlotte, all five hit double figures. If the Hawks keep that up, theyll be hard to beat.

Theyll leave Atlantic City early if Andrew Nicholson goes off for the Bonnies. The 2,000-point scorer has the ability to take over games inside, and if hes able to do that, the quarterfinal matchup will tilt in St. Bonaventures favor.

Prediction: Last season, St. Joes barely snuck into the A-10 tournament and then reeled off three straight wins to make a surprising run to the semifinals. With another year of experience under their belt, the battle-tested Hawks will beat St. Bonnies, upset Temple just as they did two weeks ago and then, with an NCAA berth at stake, take home the title. Yes, Im picking St. Joes as the tourneys surprise winner.

Temple Owls

Record: 24-6

Seed: 1

How they got here: Earned a first-round bye after winning its first outright regular-season title in 22 years

Quarterfinal opponent: UMass (21-10), Friday, noon, CBS Sports Network
Looking ahead: With a win, the Owls would face the St. Joes-St. Bonnies winner in a Saturday semifinal game at 1 p.m.

Theyll go on a deep run if Micheal Eric has a big tourney. Everyone knows how good the Juan Fernandez-Ramone Moore-Khalif Wyatt backcourt is, but when Eric is dominant inside, theres no team in the league better than the Owls.

Theyll leave Atlantic City early if Chaz Williams gets loose. The tiny UMass guard ran all over the Liacouras Center floor last Wednesday, finishing with 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds while keying a frenetic pace. Temple coach Fran Dunphy admitted his team was fortunate to escape with an OT win over UMass last week but they might need more than luck to beat the Minutemen again.

Prediction: Temple captured three straight tourney titles from 2008-10 before falling to Richmond in last years semifinals. The top-seeded Owls are obviously one of the favorites to reclaim the A-10 crown this season but without an NCAA tournament bid on the line, and with tough matchups looming against UMass and possibly St. Joes, I dont think they will.

Email Dave Zeitlin at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

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Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

Delaware has its new head basketball coach in Martin Ingelsby.

Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, comes from Notre Dame, where he played from 1997-2001 and coached for 13 seasons, seven as an assistant.

Ingelsby played his high school ball at Archbishop Carroll and is the son of Tom Ingelsby, who played for Villanova from 1970-73.

Delaware is coming off a 7-23 season and 2-16 mark in CAA play, which led to the firing of head coach Monte Ross.

The Blue Hens, who announced the hire Tuesday, will formally introduce Ingelsby in a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium.

Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

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Josh Hart returning to Villanova for senior season

Villanova’s chances at repeating as national champions just got much better.

Josh Hart is returning for his senior season.

The Wildcats’ leading scorer from last season’s title-winning team tweeted this Tuesday night:

Shortly after, Villanova officially announced the news.

Hart was in the midst of going through the NBA draft process, attending the combine in Chicago and working out for teams. By not hiring an agent, he was able to test the waters without jeopardizing his final year of college eligibility. Hart had until Wednesday to make a decision, which is coming back to the defending champs.

“I enjoyed the process and learned a lot,” Hart said in a statement released by the school. “It was definitely worthwhile. I look forward to graduating next year and coming back to play with my teammates.”

As a junior, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. He put up 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Villanova’s 95-51 Final Four win over Oklahoma, before following it up with 12 points and eight rebounds in the national title game in which the Wildcats thrillingly won at the buzzer, 77-74, on a Kris Jenkins three-pointer.

Hart and Jenkins, the team’s two leading scorers, return along with key pieces Jalen Brunson (9.6 ppg), Phil Booth (7.0 ppg), Mikal Bridges (6.4 ppg) and Darryl Reynolds (4.5 rpg).

“Josh Hart did a great job in this process,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “I’m really proud of the way that he showed himself. I am really happy for him that he is returning to play with his classmates and that he will graduate on time.” 

National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

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National champion Villanova to be honored at White House next week

It's been nearly two months since Villanova won the National Championship in one of the most memorable games in NCAA Tournament history.

Since then, the Wildcats have been honored by the city (parade), the New York Stock Exchange (opening bell), the Phillies (first pitch), the Flyers and the Union. Earlier this week, head coach Jay Wright addressed the Eagles.

But that will all pale in comparison to where the Wildcats will be next Tuesday, when they become the latest championship team to visit the White House and meet President Barack Obama.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. and will be streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live.

In his pool, President Obama had Villanova finally advancing past the second round — "I know that eventually they're going to break through. They've had some bad luck over the last couple of years," Obama told ESPN.com — but had the Wildcats falling to Kansas in the regional semifinal.

He then had Kansas beating North Carolina to win the title.

After surviving the first weekend for the first time since their Final Four run in 2009, Villanova ousted Kansas, 64-59, before shocking Buddy Hield and Oklahoma in the national semifinal, winning by 44. The Wildcats then won one of the most memorable championship games in NCAA Tournament history when Kris Jenkins hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Tar Heels, 77-74.