Temple has received a ninth seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Owls will travel to Dayton, Ohio for an opening matchup with the eighth-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack. The matchup is in the East region of the 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket.
The Owls (23-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10 Conference) will be taking on the Wolfpack (24-10, 11-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) in the second round contest. The East bracket’s top seed is the Indiana Hoosiers (27-6, 14-4 Big Ten Conference). If Temple were to advance in its first game, they would play the Hoosiers for a chance to go to the Sweet Sixteen, barring the No. 1 seed losing to the No. 16 seed for the first time in tournament history.
“We are fortunate to get in,” graduate forward Jake O’Brien said. “We are happy with anything, NC State is a really tough team and we are ready for the challenge. This is what we came here to play for.”
The decision was made on the Selection Sunday show televised on CBS. The school held a viewing party in the Liacouras Center to watch the show. While students were present, the team did not show up until after Temple’s announcement was made.
Temple was projected to get anywhere from a No. 9 seed to a No. 12 seed leading up the selection show. While the at-large bid was expected, coach Fran Dunphy preached after the decision was announced that nothing was guaranteed.
“We really didn’t know where we would be,” O’Brien said. “Everybody had us in but a lot of us didn’t know. Until we got our name called there was always that uneasy feeling.”
The Wolfpack are led by junior forward C.J. Leslie. Leslie averages a team-best 14.9 points per game and is second on the team with 7.4 rebounds per game. An All-ACC second team selection last season, the 6-foot,9-inch, 200 pound forward will likely draw defensive matchups from a combination of sophomore forward Anthony Lee, O’Brien and senior Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.
“A team effort is going to be key to winning this game,” sophomore forward Anthony Lee said.
If Temple were to advance past NC State, they would likely face Indiana, the consensus No. 1 seed before the season started. Indiana boasts two National Player of the Year candidates in sophomore forward Cody Zeller and junior guard Victor Oladipo.
“Right now they aren’t on our mind at all,” Lee said. “We have to prepare for everybody. Right now the only thing on our mind is NC State. If we were to play them we would have a game plan just like we do for everybody else.”
Temple’s first game will be Friday at the University of Dayton Arena, the time of the contest has not been announced yet. Temple has won a game in the arena this year, when it beat host school Dayton 72-71 on Feb. 9.
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ibrahimjacobs.