NCAA tourney checkup: Temple Owls

NCAA tourney checkup: Temple Owls

February 22, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Editor's Note: As Selection Sunday approaches, Dave Jones will check in with those members of the City 6 whose NCAA tournament resumes have them either in the tournament or on the bubble. Click here for Dave's selection committee guide and here for his La Salle Explorers outlook.

Temple Owls (18-8, 7-5)

Current outlook: Anxious but on an uptick
RPI rank: 47*
Non-con SOS rank: 82**

Important results (opponent RPI in parentheses)
Pretty wins (vs <51-RPI opponents): Syracuse (10), Saint Louis (40), La Salle (37)
Ugly losses (vs >99-RPI opponents): Canisius (101), St. Bonaventure (114), Duquesne (212)

Resume plus
Have shown capability of not only playing with elite-level teams – narrow loss at Kansas (4) – but beating them (Syracuse). Three top-50 wins. Unafraid on the road (7-5).

Resume minus
Clearly erratic, bordering on schizoid. Three home losses to triple-digit nonentities.

What Temple's win over La Salle (37) means
The Owls will be a real puzzle to judge with all of their conflicting data. But beating La Salle in convincing fashion proves again they can ascend to the level of their competition as well as descend to it. In recent years especially, we have seen selection committees forgive multiple pratfalls to triple-digit opponents (USC lost to six >100s in 2011) as long as evidence is there that a candidate is tough. That means winning on the road and beating multiple top-50s. Temple has done that and the La Salle win is more proof.

What the near future holds
Three more opportunities against strong top-100s, including at Charlotte (54) on Sunday, then a make-up non-con date with Detroit (63) on Thursday. After ham-n-eggers with Rhode Island (189) and at Fordham (227), it's the finale against VCU (36) on March 10.

The Owls got jacked up against La Salle and played very good defense in the first half – though Explorers' leader Tyreek Duren got in early foul trouble. Not many other times all season have the experienced Owls sunk their teeth into the defensive end. It could serve them well down the stretch and especially away from the Liacouras Center.

*RPI courtesy of CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm.
**The non-conference strength of schedule rank is a figure available to the selection committee to gauge how rigorous a schedule each team attempted to play outside its mandated league slate.