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NCAA tournament: Temple vs. Penn State in battle for Pennsylvania

Temple opens up their NCAA tournament with a head-to-head matchup with in-state rival Penn State.

1 Slow and steady might not win this race

Like scoring? Then, change the channel.

No one would ever compare these Temple Owls to those run-and-gun UNLV teams of the early 90s, yet they still rank 110th in scoring offense, at 70.9 points per game. Penn State? They rank a pitiful 289th (out of 335 teams) at 63.0 points.

So, what’s the key?

Well, Temple’s claim to fame has always been to keep it low scoring and win with defense. In this one, however, they might want to push the tempo. Temple is 7-0 when they score at least 80 points. Meanwhile, Penn State is 0-4 when their opponents score at least 79.

2 Get your March on

Fran Dunphy has long been regarded as one of the best coaches in college basketball. But until he wins another tournament game, there always be a caveat attached to that.

For as good as Dunphy has been — he’s 419-219 in his career — he can’t win in March, where he owns a 1-12 record. Some of that isn’t fair, since 10 of those years were spent at Penn, where he was a perennial 12-14 seed.

Still, at some point, it becomes mental. No matter how much the coach denies it, it does. Can Dunphy finally get over the hump? This might be his best shot.

3 Who wins the ultimate Battle?

The key to beating Penn State is shutting down Talor Battle. Easier said than done.

Battle is only 6-foot-tall, but averages 20.1 points per game, including a game-high 25 in the Big Ten tournament semifinals. He’ll most likely get matched up with the much-taller Ramone Moore (6-foot-4).

While Moore’s length could give Battle fits, Temple may want to focus on getting physical down low. Even though no official score was kept when the two teams met in a preseason scrimmage, many Penn State players were heard complaining of Temple’s aggressive style.

Or maybe they should just let Battle go off. He has scored 25 or more points nine times this year, but Penn St. is only 4-5 in those games.

 
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