With the NCAA tournament on the horizon, three teams in the field of 68 are representing the city of brotherly love: 2nd seeded Villanova, 8th seeded St. Joe’s, and 10th seeded Temple. With such a wide-open field this March, we preview these three teams as they gear up for the tournament.
Led by longtime coach Jay Wright, the Wildcats are looking to make considerable noise in the tournament for the first time since their final four run back in 2009. Nova has made the tournament in 5 of the last 6 seasons but has failed to reach the second weekend in any of them. With a strong start to this season, many felt that this was the year they would break through and do some damage come March. The Big East regular season champs fell just short of a potential 1 seed when they dropped to Seton Hall in the Big East championship, but still played fairly consistent all season finishing with a 29-5 (16-2) record. However, they still come into the field with a 2 seed. Led by junior Josh Hart and senior Ryan Arcidiacono, the Wildcat’s have a lot of backcourt experience heading into the weekend. If they can get by 15 seeded UNC- Asheville in the first round, the Wildcats could face a familiar foe in Temple in the round of 32.
With another successful A-10 season under his belt, coach Phil Martelli’s squad may have its best team representing them in the NCAA tournament since its star studded back court of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West led them to the elite eight in 2004. Coming off an A-10 tournament championship, the Hawks are coming in hot at the right time. Led by forwards Isaiah Miles and Deandre Brembry, they come into the tournament facing a tough and physical Cincinnati team. Martelli and the Hawks will look to ride their momentum past the Bearcats and into a matchup against the West region’s 1 seed, Oregon. The Hawks recent championship win over VCU showed just how suffocating their defense can be, holding opponents to just 41% shooting this season. It won’t be easy, but some experts are predicting St. Joe’s to knock off Oregon and make it into the second weekend.
The lowest seeded Philadelphia team in the field of 68 is very dangerous and could potentially do the most damage. Led by seniors Quentin DeCosey and Jalen Bond, the Temple Owls know exactly what it takes to knock off top teams. A top finish in the AAC standings this season has the Owls feeling good about themselves as the tournament approaches, but they are coming off a tough 15 point loss to AAC champion: UConn. With that loss now behind them, the Owls are a confident bunch with 3 top 25 wins this season over Cincinnati, UConn, and then undefeated SMU so they definitely have the potential to pull off an upset or two. A first round matchup with a struggling Iowa team is a very common upset pick in many brackets. A win over the Hawkeyes would potentially (and most likely) set up a big 5 matchup between the Owls and the Wildcats. If this matchup does come to fruition, you can
throw out the seeds for this rivalry because these teams are very familiar with one another. It’s tough to beat the same team twice in a season and you know the Owls are going to be looking to avenge their February 17th loss to Villanova. So its not out of the question for the 10th seeded Owls to make it out of the first weekend.
photo credit: Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus