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;}

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.

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

After 2 fumbles, Mathews says he must fight urge to fight for more yards

Doug Pederson said this week he’s so concerned about Ryan Mathews’ late-game fumbling problem that he’ll consider using a different running back in crucial late-game situations (see story).

If Mathews is concerned about it, he’s not letting on.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” he said at his locker on Thursday. “Worrying about stuff like that just causes more stress.

“I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is trying to give him 100 percent every time I touch the ball and trying to get better.”

Mathews likely cost the Eagles a win over the Lions with his late fumble in Detroit three weeks ago. Last week, he lost another fumble in the final minutes of the Eagles’ win over the Vikings.

He’s the first back with two fumbles in the final five minutes of two games in the same season since Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants in 2010.

He has single-handedly accounted for two of the three fumbles by NFL running backs in the last five minutes of games this year.

Pederson on Wednesday said, “By no means am I down on Ryan,” but also said he would consider using Wendell Smallwood or Darren Sproles in late-game situations moving forward.

Mathews is averaging 3.9 yards per carry on a team-high 11 carries per game.

He said Thursday he has to learn not to fight for extra yards when the situation calls mainly for ball protection.

“You can’t fight for more yards, you’ve just got to go down,” he said. “Don’t put the ball on the ground.

“There’s no secret cure or anything like that. You’ve just got to get what you can get and get down. You can’t really fight for more yards like that.”

Mathews said it’s difficult for him to ramp down his natural aggressiveness in situations that call for him to be more conservative and protect the ball instead of trying to fight for extra yards.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I’m not the one to really shy away from not going down on first contact. But situations like that, you’ve just got to be more aware.”

Sproles (4.6 average on 31 carries), Smallwood (4.1 average on 28 carries) and Kenjon Barner (5.8 average on 16 carries) all have higher rushing averages than Mathews.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he’s not concerned about Mathews and said his confidence in the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler hasn’t waned.

“I love our guys,” Reich said. “I wouldn't trade our guys for anybody. We use a word around here a lot, and I know sometimes it gets thrown around, but it's family.

“You know, not every family's perfect, and we all make mistakes, but when we put guys out on the field (we’re confident in them). I can't play like that. I can't coach like that. You've got to have confidence.

“Now with coaches, it’s a business and coaches make decisions based on things. And when those decisions get made, they get made. But when a guy is in the game, we have to play with confidence and we have to coach with confidence and I don't see any other way to do it.”