Selection Sunday never gets old. It never gets stale.
At Temple, the players and coaches gathered inside the Liacouras Center last night to celebrate a fifth consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament. Coach Fran Dunphy opted to wait in the hallway.
“I’m so nervous,” Dunphy said. “I’m sitting in the lobby hoping to hear our name called.”
No need to worry. The Owls (24-7) were a lock despite falling to Massachusetts in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Temple had to wait quite a while to hear its name called. When it happened, the Owls discovered they were headed to the Midwest Region to face the winner of a play-in game between No. 12 California (24-9) and No. 12 South Florida (20-13) on Friday down in Nashville, Tenn.
“Great day,” said Temple’s Ramone Moore, who leads the team in scoring at 17.8 points per game. “We were disappointed with the loss to UMass, but we’re a very confident team. We just turned the ball over too much and it hurt us. We know what we have to do to win and that’s play smart basketball.
“Seeing our name on the board, and especially with me being a senior, it’s a great day. Now, we have to go out and prove ourselves.”
Temple won a tournament game last season, then fell in double overtime to San Diego State in the round of 32.
The goals are much lofitier this year.
“We have very big goals,” said center Michael Eric. “We feel like if we play like we’re supposed to, we are a very dangerous team. We’re excited for the tournament and we’re going to put the work in. It’s a business trip for us.”
The Owls have won 13 of their last 15 games, including an 11-game winning streak.
Can they put together another streak in the NCAAs?
“That’s the plan,” Moore said. “Go out and play hard, play smart and put some W’s together. It starts Friday.”
North Carolina is No. 1 seed. Here are the top matchups in Temple’s region:
No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama
No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Belmont
No. 6 San Diego St. vs. No. 11 NC State
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 15 Detroit