Philly’s Finest

Ryan Brooks and the Temple Owls are flying high

Yes, I know everyone knows about Villanova, but do you know who gave the Wildcats their lone defeat. That would be the Temple Owls. Temple has quietly put together its best season sense the days of Mark Karcher and Pepe Sanchez and they show no signs of stopping.

The Owls have a RPI of 11 and boast wins over five teams in this week’s bracket,two of their three losses came against Georgetown and Kansas, and they have a 9-2 record in road/neutral games.

Led by the backcourt of Juan Fernandez and Ryan Brooks, Temple has the guards to be competitive with anyone on the perimter. Lavoy Allen, in the paint, held Greg Monroe of Georgetown to a stalemate earlier in the season so the Owls are set in the frontcourt as well.

Dayton was the preseason favorite, but Temple has decided that wasn’t going to happen on its watch. Fran Dunphy made Big 5 rival, Penn into an Ivy League power and he’s doing the same at Temple.

Stock Up: UAB. Another team rolling along in relative obscurity, the Blazers sit tied with Tulsa atop of Conference USA and they’re the best hope of an at-large bid in the conference. They’ve beaten Cincinnati and Butler and can really put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference. With Tulsa and UTEP coming in, they can put their mark on the league this year.

Stock Down: Clemson. Doesn’t it seem like we come to the same place every year with the Tigers. They pile up wins against cupcakes in the non-conference only to show their real stripes in conference play. The Tigers actually played pretty well in their loss at Georgia Tech, but they were awful in the loss at home to Duke. We’ll see if they can bounce back down the stretch.

Stock Up: Old Dominion. I didn’t know what to make of the Monarchs after losing by 16 at George Mason. Well I know what to make now. This is a legitimate at-large contender with wins over Georgetown and Charlotte. They’re tied for first in the CAA with Northeastern and George Mason and they controll they are in complete control of their NCAA tournament fate.

Stock Down: Minnesota. I don’t know what’s wrong with Minnesota, but it better get its act together fast. There’s no shame in losing to Michigan St, but twice in the span of three games with another loss to Indiana in between is not good at all. This was a preseason top 20 team and now the Gophers are on the wrong side of the bubble. Not a good place to be with the bubble being as strong as its been in years.

This week’s bracket projections:

Last Four In: Charlotte, William & Mary, Northwestern, Cincinnati
Last Four Out: Louisville, Wichita State, Notre Dame, Maryland

1.Kentucky16.Lehigh/Ark-Pine Bluff Milwaukee
8.Georgia Tech9.UNLV
5.Pittsburgh12.William & Mary Jacksonville
6.Ohio St11.Siena New Orleans
3.Kansas St14.Coastal Carolina
7.Mississippi10.Rhode Island Providence
2.Georgetown15.Weber St
1.Syracuse16.Arkansas St Buffalo
8.Oklahoma St9.California
5.Vanderbilt12.Dayton Spokane
4.Gonzaga13.College of Charleston
6.Baylor11.Florida New Orleans
7.Connecticut10.Old Dominion Jacksonville
2.Duke15.East Tennessee St
1.Villanova16.Campbell Providence
8.Florida St9.Texas A&M
5.Temple12.Northwestern San Jose
4.BYU13.Louisiana Tech
6.Wake Forest11.Seton Hall Buffalo
3.Wisconsin14.Murray St
7.Northern Iowa10.Mississippi St Oklahoma City
2.Texas15.Morgan St
1.Kansas16.Robert Morris Oklahoma City
5.Butler12.Cincinnati Spokane
6.New Mexico11.Richmond San Jose
3.West Virginia14.Maine
7.Missouri10.Clemson Milwaukee
2.Michigan St15.Sam Houston St

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