Temple Awaits Play-in Winner; Drexel, SJU and La Salle Heading to the NIT

Temple Awaits Play-in Winner; Drexel, SJU and La Salle Heading to the NIT

Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls are dancing again, drawing the Midwest region's 5 seed. They'll play the winner of California vs. South Florida on Friday in Nashville at 9:40 p.m. Friday night on TNT (see story). If you haven't already put in for that half or full day off, now's the time. Unfortunately, the selection committee didn't deem Drexel's schedule strong enough to support their tournament bid, so Temple will be Philly's lone representative. I think we can all get behind Lehigh in their battle with 2 seed Duke though. 
Temple's bracket includes North Carolina as its top seed, Kansas the 2, and Georgetown the 3. If the Owls beat their first round opponent, they'll meet the winner of 4 Michigan vs. 13 Ohio. Creighton and Alabama are the 8 and 9 seeds, respectively.  
Villanova fans will be familiar with South Florida, whose defense snuffed the Wildcats out of the Big East Tournament last week, 56-47. Cal finished second in the Pac-12 with a 24-9 record and a final RPI of 38. 
How far do you think Temple will go?
[Temple Selection Show Reaction] | [Complete Bracket]
--------
Meanwhile, the 27-win Drexel Dragons aren't a one seed. They aren't even a two seed. They're a three seed in the NIT. And they're probably playing Saint Joseph's in round two.
Joining the Hawks and Dragons in the just announced field of 32 are the La Salle Explorers.
No. 3 Drexel will take on No. 6 Central Florida at 7:15 on Wednesday evening on ESPN3, while No. 2 SJU takes on No. 7 Northern Illinois Iowa, (also at 7:15, also on ESPN3). Should both teams win, they will face each other in the second round. The Dragons and Hawks met once before this season, when SJU defeated Drexel 62-49 at the Fieldhouse. Of course, that was before Drexel got healthy and won 25 of its next 26 games, including 19 in a row.
Somehow, the NIT committee -- those NCAA rejects (we didn't say that) -- thought it would be cute to match two city rivals within one seed of each other two ensure they saw each other almost immediately. Well, there will be some serious Philly interest in the NIT for at least one night -- it's just unfortunate it will have to come at the expense of one team or the other.
As for the No. 3 Explorers, they'll be taking on the No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on ESPN2.
Dr. (and coach) John Giannini spoke at length following his team's loss to St. Louis in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday night about his team's postseason chances, calling a potential NIT bid a "big deal."

"We're 0-4 to St. Louis and Temple – two good teams. But we're 4-0 against UMass, St. Bonaventure and Xavier. We would love to be in the NIT. I think when that bracket is announced, you see some of the best programs in the country. Obviously everyone would prefer to be in the NCAA tournament, but you're judged by the company you keep and you're going to see household names in that tournament."

We posed a question to the Drexel fans earlier, but, just to check in once more, exactly how pissed are you guys?
#embedly_twitter_85923466{background:url(http://a0.twimg.com/profile_background_images/10286782/Twitter_Background.jpg) #9AE4E8; padding:20px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 0px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .embedly_tweet_content{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:0px;height:40px; padding-bottom: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p span.metadata span.author{line-height:15px;color:#999;font-size:14px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p span.metadata span.author a{line-height:15px;font-size:20px;vertical-align:middle} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 10px 0 0px;width:48px;height:48px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 p a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .embedly_timestamp{font-size:13px;display:inline-block;margin-top: 5px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .components-above span.embedly_timestamp{font-size:10px;margin-top: 1px;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 a {color: #0084B4; text-decoration:none;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 a:hover{text-decoration:underline} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-screen-name {font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-full-name {padding-left: 4px; color: #999; font-size: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions{margin-left: 10px;font-size:13px;display:inline-block;width:250px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .components-above span.tweet-actions{font-size:10px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .controls{line-height:12px!important} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions a {margin-left:5px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions a b{font-weight:normal} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .components-above span.tweet-actions a b{vertical-align:baseline;line-height:12px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .components-above .tweet-text{font-size:13px;vertical-align:baseline} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-image {float: left; width: 40px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-user-block-image {float: left; width: 48px; height: 48px} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-row {margin-left: 40px; margin-top: 3px;line-height: 17px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-user-block {margin-left: -40px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .stream-item {padding-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .simple-tweet-image img {margin-top: 4px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .simple-tweet-content {margin: 0 0 13px 0px; font-size: 14px; min-height:48px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .in-reply-to-border {border-color: #EBEBEB; border-style: solid; border-width: 1px 0 0;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .in-reply-to-text {margin-left: 4px; padding-left: 8px; padding-right: 10px; color: #999; font-size: 12px;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions i {background: transparent url(http://a2.twimg.com/a/1306889658/phoenix/img/sprite-icons.png) no-repeat;width:15px;height:15px;margin:0 4px -3px 3px;outline: none; text-indent:-99999px;vertical-align:baseline;display:inline-block;position:relative;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions a.retweet-action i {background-position:-192px 0;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions a.reply-action i {background-position:0 0;} #embedly_twitter_85923466 .tweet-actions a.favorite-action i {background-position:-32px 0;}

@DACPack
DAC Pack Drexel gets a 3 seed in the NIT against UCF? St. Joes gets a 2? Even bigger travesty.
Mar 12 via Facebook Favorite Retweet Reply

Let the trash talking begin.
[Bruiser Flint's Response] | NIT Bracket]
--------
Matt P. and Nick Menta contributed to this post.

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies (70-85) at Mets (82-73)
1:10 p.m. on CSN

After two rough losses for the Phillies and their pitching staff, the offense picked them up and came through with a 10-8 win. 22-year-old Jake Thompson takes the hill this afternoon while Robert Gsellman starts a crucial game for the Mets.

Here are five things to watch on Sunday.

1. All the pressure on New York, Gsellman
The Mets remain 0.5 games up on the final National League playoff spot. 

While their pitching staff was falling apart at the seams going into (and during) this series, the one saving grace for New York was its soft schedule, facing the Phillies seven times in its last 10. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals have to deal with the MLB best Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants end the year vs. the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, a loss on Saturday (thanks in part to Noah Syndergaard getting scratched with strep throat) puts the Mets in a precarious position. They're tied in the loss column with the Cards and Giants while fighting for one of two playoff spots and their rotation most closely resembles their Triple A team from Opening Day. 

Gsellman is one of those pitchers who started the year never having tasted the major leagues. In fact, he started the year in Double A. His first career start came at Citi Field last month against the Phillies and resulted in his first career loss after he allowed four runs in six innings. 

He's been better since that start, carrying a 3.13 ERA into Sunday. The 23-year-old righty will likely start vs. the Phillies again next weekend, meaning the Mets' season rides in part on a rookie with just 31 2/3 innings in the majors. 

2. Young man on a roll
While Gsellman lost his last start, Thompson has won his last two starts. The young righty is on a hot streak as his season nears an end.

Thompson's ERA has goe down in each of his last five starts, a stat made less impressive by the fact that he began that run with a 9.78 ERA. He has gone at least five innings in his last eight starts and has shown glimpses of why he was such a valued prospects.

In September, Thompson is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA over four starts. He's still allowed 33 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings during that span, but it's been much better than his lackluster August.

While Thompson is in line to start next weekend against the Mets as well, today could be his final start of the season. He has already set a career-high in innings and the Phillies may not want to extend him one more start.

3. What to look for in the season's final week
Including Sunday, the Phillies have just seven games left in their season. They're eliminated from playoff contention, but there's still plenty to watch as the Phils take on Braves and Mets.

Ryan Howard's final fairwell: With his five-year, $125 million deal coming to a close this year, Howard is almost certainly playing his final games in Philadelphia next week. He'll get plenty of starts and may even face the Mets' Bartolo Colon, who he's smacked three home runs off of in his career.

Playing spoiler: As mentioned above, the Mets have everything on the line both today and next weekend in Philadelphia. There are few better ways to end a postseason-less season than knocking a rival out of playoff contention.

More looks at the kids: Roman Quinn's emergence over the last two weeks has been fun to watch and Jorge Alfaro may get more chances in the last seven games. Beyond them, Thompson, Tommy Joseph and others close out a nice first season. 

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Maikel Franco has looked more like his 2015 self over the last few weeks. He's batting .310 in September with three home runs, matching his August total. His 15 RBI this month are his most in a month other than July. 

Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera has been on fire this month as well. After battting .405 in August, he's batting .333 and has five home runs, including the walk-off homer on Thursday. He's slugging .628 this month after putting up a .786 slugging percentage in August. 

5. This and that
• In Gsellman's August start vs. the Phillies, he only allowed one run while he was in the game. However, he left the bases loaded in the 7th with no outs before A.J. Ellis knocked in the decisive two-run double to give the Phils a lead they would not relinquish.

• Six different Phillies batters had hits off Gsellman, including Jimmy Paredes who went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. 

• Despite pitching injuries, the Mets have the eighth-best team ERA in September with a 3.64 average. The Phillies are 15th in baseball with a 4.10 ERA this month.

• The Phillies are 6-9 against the Mets this year. They're already ensured of a better finish than last year's 5-14 mark vs. New York.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

uspresswire-marlins-jose-fernandez.jpg
USA Today Images

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.

The Marlins announced Fernandez's death, and the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with a jetty, said Lorenzo Veloz of the Fish Commission.

A news conference was planned for later Sunday morning.

Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year.

He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times -- landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries -- before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.