Owls earn No. 5 seed for the Big Dance.
The men’s basketball team hosted a Selection Sunday party for fans and media to join the team at the Liacouras Center, as the Owls earned the fifth seed and the right to play No. 12 South Florida or California on Friday, March 16 in the Midwest region of the NCAA tournament.
Temple (24-7, 13-3 Atlantic Ten Conference) won the A-10 title outright for the first time in 22 years under the guidance of coach Fran Dunphy who was named the A-10 Coach of the Year. The Owls will be making their fifth straight trip to the NCAA tournament and their 30th appearance in school history.
While some teams can appear over-emotional on the teleconference show when their team is selected for the Big Dance, the Owls remained content to cheer from their seats. When the show announced they were a fifth seed, the fans, cheer squad and band displayed exuberance, but the players clapped contently, yet modestly.
“Coach always tells us to be humble. You have to respect the game,” redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore said. “We knew we had a good chance of being selected, but we didn’t want to be too big headed about it. We just wanted to wait it out and see if we got chosen and I’m glad we did.”
A trio of seniors in guards Juan Fernandez, Moore and graduate center Micheal Eric are all hoping to make an impact in the tournament. The Owls are looking to improve on their second round win last year against Penn State and make a further run into March Madness.
“Whenever we’re feeling good and whenever we’re able to manage the game, we’ve been pretty successful,” Fernandez said. “So we’re definitely going to try to do that and let the game be on our hands and not try to play a game that the other team wants to play.”
“The ‘disease of me’ comes in at this time of year and if we can stay together like we did all year long, when guys were hurt and stuff like that, then we have a shot at making some good moves in the tournament,” Eric said.”
The Owls will face either the Big East Conference’s South Florida Bulls (20-13, 12-6) or Pac-12’s California Bears (24-9, 13-5). Each team has four players who average double figures in scoring.
The Bears average 71.7 points per game and are led by sophomore Allen Crabbe who averages 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per meeting. Defensively California limits opponents to 61.8 points per game and they will rely on senior guard Jorge Gutierrez, who was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Bulls’ senior forward Augustus Gilchrist, who averages 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, leads the team on offense. South Florida has one of the worst turnover margins in Division I and ranks in the bottom of the league in scoring with 59.2 points per game.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.