College hoops fever taking over Philly

Nova-Joe
Villanova and Saint Joseph’s are bubble teams for the NCAA tournament, but strong finishes in their conference tourneys could punch tickets in March.
Paige Ozaroski/Metro

Before the season started, it seemed feasible to believe that four teams among the City Six — or Big Five, plus one — could earn a berth in the coveted NCAA tournament.

Those four were Saint Joseph’s, Drexel, La Salle and Temple. Villanova and Penn didn’t seem to be in the mix at all.

Fast forward and it appeared that no team would be repping Philadelphia in the Big Dance, something that hasn’t happened since 1977.

In mid-November, La Salle lost at home to Central Connecticut State. A month later, Temple was beaten by Canisius at the Liacouras Center. Then Saint Joseph’s lost to Fairfield at Hagan Arena. Drexel, an NCAA lock before the season began, struggled mightily with home losses to Towson, Northeastern and Rider. And Villanova was dropped at home by Columbia. Yes, Columbia.

But it all changed with a crazy week.

Villanova defeated No. 5 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse in the same week. La Salle, which hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 1992, downed No. 9 Butler and No. 19 VCU.

Amazing.

What it also proves is that basketball in this city wasn’t as bad as many previously thought.

Fast forward to today and La Salle, Villanova, Temple are all in the tournament discussion. Saint Joseph’s is on the outside, but hardly eliminated. Penn is virtually out as it continues to struggle through a difficult season — unless the Quakers rally with an unlikely run through the Ivy League.

One team out of the City Six will likely wind up in the tournament. Wouldn’t it be something special to see three or four in the field of 68?

Fast forward a little more to Selection Sunday and we’ll find out. It should be a fun ride.

Here is a review of the city’s recent success:

La Salle » Hasn’t been to NCAAs since 1992, when it lost in first round to Seton Hall
Temple » Has advanced to five straight NCAAs under Fran Dunphy
Saint Joseph’s » Hasn’t been to Big Dance since 2008, when it lost in first round to Oklahoma
Villanova » Missed NCAAs last season, but had appeared in seven consecutive prior to that, including a Final Four run in 2009
Penn » Searching for first berth since 2007
Drexel » Looking for first berth since 1996



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.