BROOKLYN – March Madness is here, and the (10) Temple Owls will take on the (7) Iowa Hawkeyes at 3:15 p.m. Iowa has lost six of its last eight games, and the Owls are coming off of 77-62 loss to UConn in the AAC Tournament semi-finals. Iowa fell to Gonzaga in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, so this Hawkeyes roster knows what its like to play in the big dance. Temple’s roster is a bit different and while Quenton DeCosey and Devontae Watson were on the 2012-13 team that went to the tournament, neither of the two played a minute in either of Temple’s games. Jaylen Bond however, registered minutes with Texas back in 2012, shooting 0-4 in the Longhorns’ first round loss to Cincinnati. This is a fresh Temple basketball team with little tournament experience.
Every Temple basketball fan remembers March 24, 2013. For those that don’t remember, that was the day that every college basketball fan in the nation had their television sets tuned to the second round NCAA Tournament matchup between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Temple Owls in Dayton, OH. Indiana was an 11.5 point favorite and everybody counted out the Owls, but Khalif Wyatt had other plans. Wyatt put the team on his back and scored 31 points as Temple stayed with Indiana the entire game, but fell to the Hoosiers in the final minutes of play. Who will be the Khalif Wyatt of this year’s team? That is a question that remains unanswered.
For Temple to have a chance at upsetting an Iowa Hawkeyes team that was ranked as high as number three in the nation, the Owls need Obi Enechionyia to be on top of his game. The sophomore forward will have his hands full with Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff, who is averaging 18.9 points per game this season. Uthoff and Enechionyia have very similar games, because both are able to utilize their size to get in the paint and score the easy buckets, and then space the floor with the ability to knock down shots on the perimeter.
If Uthoff sees any space at all between himself and the defender, he won’t hesitate to shoot the ball and then laugh right in your face when it goes in. On the year, Uthoff is shooting 39 percent from three-point range, so Enechionyia will have to have a hand in his face at all times. Uthoff is a type of player that Coach Aaron Mckie talked about in the same conversation as NBA All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, because of his size and ability to space the floor with his shooting ability.
This is an Iowa team that beat Michigan St. twice on the year, back when MSU was ranked at #1 and #4 in the top-25 polls. The Owls cannot afford to preform the way they did in the AAC tournament loss to UConn, and especially not Enechionyia. Enechionyia started off the game shooting 2-2 and then finished the game 2-13. Quenton DeCosey and Devin Coleman need to play 40 minutes of their best basketball and the Owls will be in good shape. Jaylen Bond can not be the only player that preforms well for Temple as he was in the AAC Tournament. Temple needs to get off to a hot start against Iowa and never take the foot of the gas pedal.
Another player the Owls will have to watch out for is 7-1 center Adam Woodbury. Woodbury averages 7.7 points and 8.5 rebounds on the year for the Hawkeyes, and his size will be a mismatch for Jaylen Bond who is about five inches shorter than Woodbury. Bond has never never been one to shy away from a bigger opponent, but he will definitely have his hands full today. This won’t be an easy game for the Owls by any means, but is there ever an easy game in March? Of course not, that’s why they call it March Madness.