For the first time in three years, the men’s basketball team is going dancing.
The last two seasons, the Owls failed to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but secured a No. 10-seed spot Sunday evening, and will travel to Brooklyn to play No.7-seeded Iowa.
It’s the second straight year Fran Dunphy’s squad has waited and watched the Selection Sunday telecast on CBS with baited breath. But the results this year were much different than last season, when the Owls were snubbed, and left wondering if the national basketball landscape declined to recognize the sixth-winningest basketball program in the NCAA.
“I guess our name doesn’t hold weight in [last year’s] selection committee’s eyes,” then-senior guard Will Cummings said after last year’s tournament teams were named. “It’s a big disappointment.”
This year, the team has a chance to earn back the respect it deserved last season, both for itself, and its conference.
The American Athletic Conference, which Temple joined upon the conference’s inauguration in 2014, sent four teams to the big dance. Five conferences sent more teams than The American.
Whether it was a lack of respect or competition in the conference, Temple has an opportunity to change that.
A tournament run—even a short one—would likely require a win against No. 2 seed Villanova, Temple’s Big 5 rival, which would go a long way in bolstering recruiting efforts in Philadelphia, where Temple has struggled in recent years.
Temple and The American were slighted by last year’s committee. A strong performance could make next year’s Selection Sunday a lot less stressful.