The Owls are great at having big games on their schedule. With a program as great as Temple’s, it’s not very difficult to play some of the best teams in the country.
On top of the early season tournaments and conference play, the Owls get to play in one of the best traditions in college basketball, the Big 5. The American Athletic Conference gave Temple some exciting home games last year, and it will be the same this year.
Oh, and for the second year in a row, the Owls will host the defending national champion. Here’s the top five games I have billed for next season:
#5: La Salle Explores: Time and Location TBD
The reason this is number five is because it’s been rumored to be taking place at the Palestra, just like last season. Temple and La Salle put on a thriller in the Cathedral of College Basketball in front of national audience last January. The national cameras may not be there again, but expect the thrill of the game to be nothing less.
These two rivals seem to always put on a great clash, even when there’s little meaning in the games. The small size of the Palestra and the divided crowd makes the Battle of North Broad a can’t miss game.
Temple will see UConn twice next season, but the more meaningful one of course is when the Huskies come to North Broad, for obvious reasons. It’s the reigning national champ! How can fans not get excited about this, especially because it’ll be the second straight year the Owls host the defending champs.
Not only that, but Kevin Ollie doesn’t seem to be a one hit wonder type of guy. He did lose some key names, notably Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels, but UConn still has some firepower. Ryan Boatright returns with more confidence, transfer guard Rodney Purvis and newcomer guard Daniel Hamiltion give UConn one of the more prolific guard attacks in the country.
There’s a reason this team is ranked 20 in the preseason top 25, don’t be surprised if they ranked high when Temple sees them.
It’s not guaranteed that the Owls will take on Duke since the matchups haven’t been decided yet, but the potential of the game makes it very noteworthy. Even if the Owls don’t play Duke, other teams in the tournament include Stanford and UNLV, two very great basketball programs.
Duke lost a ton of talent to the NBA, but they brought in very suitable replacements, as Duke does. The last time these two met, a game Temple fans won’t forget, the Owls knocked off the fifth ranked Blue Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.
Duke is preseason ranked number two, and Fran Dunphy does seem to have a thing for out coaching some legendary coaches.
#2 Villanova Wildcats: at The Pavilion, Date TBD
Villanova embarrassed the Owls at The Liacouras Center last season, and I’m assuming the Owls won’t let that happen again. Its the Big 5, and blowouts aren’t very common. Villanova lost a key contributor to last season’s Big East title with James Bell leaving, but a returning Ryan Arcidiacono and JayVaughn Pinkston make the Wildcats contenders again.
Jay Wright’s great recruiting gave Nova another strong incoming class, led by four star small forward Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth, a four star point guard who picked Villanova over Temple. Temple may struggle to keep up with the skill of some of Villanova’s stars, but a rivalry is a rivalry, and victory likely won’t come easy for either team.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks December 22nd at The Liacouras Center
Surprised? This somehow hasn’t gotten around Temple’s campus yet as I just recently found out about this one. KUsports.com revealed that a trip to Temple will be on the Jayhawks non conference schedule this season. Two years ago, Temple traveled to Kansas and led for most of the game, but Bill Self rarely lets his team lose at home, at the Jayhawks held on.
Dunphy has to be excited for the potential of beating Kansas in front of a home crowd, even if it is on winter break. Losing two phenoms isn’t supposed to hurt the Jayhawks much, as they’re ranked in the preseason top five.
Shooting guard Wayne Selden surprised some folks by not leaving for the NBA, a mixture of him and Perry Ellis will be tough for any team to compete with. Add in five star small forward Kelly Oubre, who has incredibly high potential, and Dunphy will probably have his hands full on December 22nd.
Notable Mention: SMU, Memphis, St. Joes