March 08, 2016
As we gear up for March Madness, you could easily make the case that this is shaping up as one of the more interesting Championship Weeks in Philadelphia in quite some time. Consider what is at stake for the three local teams with realistic tourney hopes:
• Villanova: If the Wildcats win the Big East Tournament after going 16-2 in the conference, they should be the top seed in East Region unless Virginia steamrolls everyone in their path en route to the ACC title. And even then, Louisville isn’t *that* much further from Charlottesville than Philly.
This guy probably wouldn’t mind if the Wildcats are at home for the Sweet 16 (and considering their recent history, we should point out that they have to make it there first):
He isn’t the only one. We aren’t supposed to root for anything, but every outlet that plans to cover Villanova is praying for the Wildcats to get slotted in the East Region.
• Saint Joseph’s: Phil Martelli’s team is probably on the right side of the bubble at the moment, but an A-10 quarterfinal loss (likely to George Washington) would make Selection Sunday a very difficult day on Hawk Hill.
• Temple: After winning the regular season crown, the Owls should win in the quarters of the AAC Tournament against East Carolina or USF. Temple has a real shot at the league’s automatic bid, but the problem is that so do four other teams, most of which are situated right on the bubble right with the Owls.
The Wildcats beat up on Georgetown and DePaul last week, and they will play one of those two teams at noon on Thursday at MSG. Villanova’s real work should begin in Friday night’s semifinal against Providence or Butler.
Bad week for the Hawks at the worst possible time. There isn’t any shame in losing to St. Bonaventure on the road, especially when Marcus Posley goes NOVA. However, following that up by falling to a Duquesne team that had dropped eight games in a row at Hagan Arena qualifies as a really bad loss.
The Hawks are currently slotted at 9, 9, 10, 10, and 12 (last team in). If St. Joe’s goes one-and-done in Brooklyn, you bet that their résumé is going to be picked apart all week.
Here is the good news for Temple: If they get in, the bracketologists are rewarding them with a decent seed (in the 10-11 range, generally). Here is the bad news for Temple: I don’t see a great argument for them to get an at-large bid with their computer numbers.
Many of Temple’s losses are honestly pretty good outside of the major East Carolina blemish. UNC, Wisconsin, St. Joe’s, Utah, and Butler are a few of them. The Owls were the first team out of the field last year, and Fran Dunphy’s team clearly wants no part of the bubble again.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann