Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Someone's Got Some Explaining to Do

Let's play a hypothetical game, shall we? Team A has an overall record of 24-5 on the season, is leading its conference with a 12-2 record and has suffered its only five defeats at the hands of the then No. 1 overall team in the country at home, a team from the best conference in basketball, the third-place team in its own conference on the road, who currently sits at 22-7 overall, a tough road loss to a 19-9 conference opponent and an early-season nail-biter to a team that is ranked in the top 20. Meanwhile, Team A has also won its last five games and six of its last seven.

Team B has an overall record of 23-5 on the season, is second in its conference with a 12-4 record and has suffered four of those losses against in-conference opponents, three of which were ranked, including the No. 1 team in the country right now. Two of those losses came on the road. The other was a home loss to 17-12 conference foe. And the other loss … it came at the hands of Team A. Oh, and Team B has lost three of its last four games and four of its last seven.

If I gave you all that information without naming the teams, you'd say Team A has to be ranked higher than Team B, right? It only makes sense. Yet here we are, with a week left in the regular season, and somehow Temple is ranked 11 spots lower than Villanova in the AP Poll (9. Nova; 20. Temple) and seven spots lower in the ESPN/USA Today Poll (9. Nova; 16. Temple). Um, what?

Listen, I get that Villanova was ranked in the preseason top five. I get that they play in the superior Big East, and all of their losses with the exception of the one against Temple have come against Big East opponents, all of them typical powers (UConn, Pitt, Georgetown, Syracuse). But still, how can anyone honestly look at these two teams' bodies of work, especially of late, and conclude that they are 7-11 spots apart in the polls? Honestly. Especially since, you know, Temple actually beat Villanova. And has a better record. And is leading their conference, a conference that is much better than people think, by the way. I just don't get it. I really don't.

For starters, take a look at the A-10. Temple is leading the league and will most likely head to Atlantic City with the top seed, thanks to Xavier topping Richmond this weekend. The Owls are a lock for the NCAA tournament. So are Xavier and Richmond, and teams like Saint Louis, Charlotte, Rhode Island and Dayton are legitimately on the bubble. While that can't compare to the Big East, it's no slouch of opponents Temple has faced this year.

And Fran Dunphy continued the tradition John Chaney had started with Temple of playing a ferocious out of conference schedule. The Owls went down to D.C. to take on Georgetown in the second game of the season, and really should have won. They followed that up by defeating a Siena team that currently sits at 24-6 overall, leading the MAAC at 17-1. They beat a Virginia Tech team that's third in the ACC and 21-7 overall. They scheduled three Big East foes — losing against St. John's for their one truly bad defeat, then beating then No. 3 Villanova in the annual Big Five showdown and topping Seton Hall on the road. And they scheduled Kansas, the preseason No. 1 and the team everyone expected to be the cream of the crop in college basketball. Sure, they got crushed in the process, but that was way back on Jan. 2, a game this team clearly learned a lot from. And if you want to talk about getting blown out, Nova was just embarrassed at Syracuse, and a few games before that, the Wildcats were embarrassed at Georgetown.

I'm not trying to put down Villanova here. As you can tell if you follow this site at all, I really do like Villanova — though not as much as Temple. This is more to show just how little respect people are giving Temple and the A-10 as a whole. I mean, 7-11 spots different in the polls is an embarrassment. More embarrassing than Temple's losses against St. John's and Kansas. More embarrassing than Nova's losses at Syracuse and Georgetown. It shows that the voters aren't paying attention. They see a Big East team and an A-10 team with similar records and decide that the Big East team must be way better. 7-11 spots better. Despite the fact that the Big East team is stumbling, losing three of its last four, while the A-10 team is rolling, winning five straight to take command of its league. Despite the fact that the two teams faced one another, and the A-10 team won.

Oh yeah, remember that? Way back in the second week of December? Here's a refresher. Temple won 75-65. And the Owls exposed Nova's biggest weakness: rebounding. The Owls had great games by Juan Fernandez and Ryan Brooks that night, but it was LaVoy Allen and his 17 rebounds that helped Temple outboard Nova 32-24. Temple exposed the Cats' one glaring flaw. UConn killed Nova on the boards 36-26, getting 11 offensive boards. Pitt did one better, nabbing 18 off the offensive glass, finishing with a 33-30 overall rebounding edge. And Syracuse perfected the blueprint Temple laid out, UConn followed and Pitt attacked, outrebounding the Wildcats 48-36 and getting a ridiculous 22 offensive boards.

Meanwhile, in its five-game winning streak, Temple has outrebounded its opponents 180-152, led by the best rebound no one knows about, LaVoy Allen, who has averaged 12.2 boards over the last five games, including 10 against St. Joe's, 17 against Dayton and 21 in Sunday's victory against La Salle, helping to up his average to 10.9 a game, good for 9th in the nation.

What more must Temple and the A-10 do to get a little respect? Maybe they aren't as good as Villanova … despite what the résumés may suggest. But they are sure as shit aren't 7-11 spots worse than Villanova. Just ask the Wildcats. They'll tell you just how good these Owls are.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. You answered your own question, brother. It's the Atlantic 10. Granted, we know the 10 is solid, but voters, even though they should know more, don't know as much as we thought.

  2. If Temple played in the Big East they'd be a .500 team