The Temple Owls will be facing a no.1 Villanova for the third time in a row. The Owls have had the luck of playing four number one teams in the past three seasons, three of which being their hometown rival, Villanova. This matchup marks the 20th time in program history that Temple will be facing a number 1 team. They are only 2-17 in those matchups and have not upset the top team in the nation since defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2000. However, the Owls are 1-3 vs. no.1 teams at the Liacouras Center.
Despite having a 16-9 home record against the Wildcats, Villanova leads the all-time series 48-43. This is the closest rivalry in the Big 5, but Villanova has been dominating the city series in recent seasons. Their current senior class has the same opportunity as the class above them to go out without a loss in the Big 5. The Wildcats have won 21 straight city series and are currently 3-0 in the Big 5. The Owls are 1-1 after a close loss to La Salle.
Temple has relied heavily on the sophomore guard, Quinton Rose, so far this season. He is tied with Shizz Alston for leading scorer for the Owls at 17.3 ppg, ranking sixth in the AAC for scoring. Rose is averaging just under 2 steals per game and leads the Owls in rebounding with 6.1 rpg. Just .1 more than Obi Enechionyia who is averaging 12.9 ppg and 6 rpg. Temple’s big-man game is something that was skeptical coming into the season. They have seen sporadic excellence from Ernest Aflakpui and Damione Moore down low. Including a 20 point, 10 rebound double-double from Moore against South Carolina. As well as a clutch 12 points and 6 rebounds from Aflakpui in Temple’s close win over St. Joe’s. However, they are rather inconsistent.
The Owls do have three players averaging in double figures, but Villanova has four. Mikal Bridges leads the Wildcats with 18.1ppg and of course, Jalen Brunson is in the mix with 17.2 ppg. Brunson also leads the Wildcats with 4.8 assists per game. That is 1.2 over Temple’s Josh Brown who is only averaging 3.6 apg.
The action is set to tip off at 7:00 p.m. at the Liacouras Center. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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