La Salle, Temple set to tango for Big 5 championship
There are many bubble teams among the Big 5, but one might have the inside track to an NCAA tournament invite.
La Salle and Temple will lay it all on the line tonight in a nationally-televised contest. Both schools have Big 5 Player of the Year candidates — Temple’s Khalif Wyatt, La Salle’s Tyreek Duren — and are coming off Atlantic 10 victories. The city rivals look evenly matched on paper, but the Explorers (18-6) can all but secure themselves a ticket to the Big Dance with a win over the Owls (17-8).
La Salle has already clinched a share of the city-series title and a win over Temple would give the school its first outright Big 5 championship since 1990. The Explorers haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since 1992.
“You want to see improvement in the mental areas and that’s where we’ve grown,” La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini said. “A lot of these games are close so you’re not going to do big things to win games. You’re going to do small things to win games.”
It won’t be easy at a rockin g Temple gym, where it’s also dollar hot dog night. The Owls have taken the last seven meetings with La Salle and own a 9-1 mark against the Explorers at the Liacouras Center.
“The Big 5 champion has made it to the NCAA Tournament, that’s where everyone wants to be,” Giannini told KYW Newsradio. “And winning at Temple is a huge resume win, they are an outstanding program, an outstanding team, and it would strengthen anyone’s case who is under consideration to win at Temple.”