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Temple Awaits Play-in Winner; Drexel, SJU and La Salle Heading to the NIT

Mar 11, 2012, 7:26 PM EDT

Fran Dunphy's Temple Owls are dancing again, drawing the Midwest region's 5 seed. They'll play the winner of California vs. South Florida on Friday in Nashville. Drexel did not make the field despite their impressive season.
Fran Dunphy’s Temple Owls are dancing again, drawing the Midwest region’s 5 seed. They’ll play the winner of California vs. South Florida on Friday in Nashville at 9:40 p.m. Friday night on TNT (see story). If you haven’t already put in for that half or full day off, now’s the time. Unfortunately, the selection committee didn’t deem Drexel’s schedule strong enough to support their tournament bid, so Temple will be Philly’s lone representative. I think we can all get behind Lehigh in their battle with 2 seed Duke though. 

Temple’s bracket includes North Carolina as its top seed, Kansas the 2, and Georgetown the 3. If the Owls beat their first round opponent, they’ll meet the winner of 4 Michigan vs. 13 Ohio. Creighton and Alabama are the 8 and 9 seeds, respectively.  

Villanova fans will be familiar with South Florida, whose defense snuffed the Wildcats out of the Big East Tournament last week, 56-47. Cal finished second in the Pac-12 with a 24-9 record and a final RPI of 38. 
How far do you think Temple will go?
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Meanwhile, the 27-win Drexel Dragons aren’t a one seed. They aren’t even a two seed. They’re a three seed in the NIT. And they’re probably playing Saint Joseph’s in round two.
Joining the Hawks and Dragons in the just announced field of 32 are the La Salle Explorers.
No. 3 Drexel will take on No. 6 Central Florida at 7:15 on Wednesday evening on ESPN3, while No. 2 SJU takes on No. 7 Northern Illinois Iowa, (also at 7:15, also on ESPN3). Should both teams win, they will face each other in the second round. The Dragons and Hawks met once before this season, when SJU defeated Drexel 62-49 at the Fieldhouse. Of course, that was before Drexel got healthy and won 25 of its next 26 games, including 19 in a row.
Somehow, the NIT committee — those NCAA rejects (we didn’t say that) — thought it would be cute to match two city rivals within one seed of each other two ensure they saw each other almost immediately. Well, there will be some serious Philly interest in the NIT for at least one night — it’s just unfortunate it will have to come at the expense of one team or the other.
As for the No. 3 Explorers, they’ll be taking on the No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on ESPN2.
Dr. (and coach) John Giannini spoke at length following his team’s loss to St. Louis in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday night about his team’s postseason chances, calling a potential NIT bid a “big deal.”

“We’re 0-4 to St. Louis and Temple – two good teams. But we’re 4-0 against UMass, St. Bonaventure and Xavier. We would love to be in the NIT. I think when that bracket is announced, you see some of the best programs in the country. Obviously everyone would prefer to be in the NCAA tournament, but you’re judged by the company you keep and you’re going to see household names in that tournament.”

We posed a question to the Drexel fans earlier, but, just to check in once more, exactly how pissed are you guys?

Drexel gets a 3 seed in the NIT against UCF? St. Joes gets a 2? Even bigger travesty.
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Let the trash talking begin.
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Matt P. and Nick Menta contributed to this post.