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]
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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?
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@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]
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Matt P. and Nick Menta contributed to this post.

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).