Selection Sunday: Lehigh meets Duke, Temple 5th seed

March 11, 2012 8:47:12 PM PDT
Temple knows its seed and site. The Owls are just waiting for an opponent in the NCAA tournament.

Temple (24-7) earned a No. 5 seed in the tournament and will play the winner of the play-in game Wednesday between No. 12 seeds California (24-9) and South Florida (20-13) in the Midwest Region. The Owls will open the tournament Friday in Nashville, Tenn.

Led by coach Fran Dunphy, the Owls won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and are in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season. The No. 21 Owls won a second-round game against Penn State last season.

"I'm pleased with it," Temple guard Ramone Moore said. "I've seen a couple of California games. I haven't seen USF too much. I'm pretty sure it will be a nice challenge for us. I'm just excited that we got chosen. And I want to move forward and just prepare for the game."

Surprisingly, no one else in Temple's city, Philadelphia, will able to do the same. While Drexel seemed like one of the stronger bubble teams, the Dragons were not invited, and ended up in the NIT. Two other Philadelphia schools - St. Joseph's and La Salle - will join them. And even Penn made the postseason, as the Quakers are headed to the CBI.

But Temple is the only one in the dance, and the Owls need to refocus. After all, they are coming off a disappointing loss to Massachusetts in the A-10 tournament Friday in Atlantic City, N.J., and haven't won more than one game in the NCAA tournament since they advanced to the regional final in 2001 under former coach John Chaney.

Dunphy has some work to do, as well. After all, he has just a 2-13 career record in the NCAA tournament, and he had lost 11 straight tournament games until last season.

"I think a new tournament, a new year, a new challenge," Dunphy said. "I don't think anything from the past will help us necessarily."

Dunphy didn't think it mattered playing a team coming off only a two-day break.

"You have to play," Dunphy said. "Somebody said, 'Are they going to be tired?' I doubt it."

Last season, March was all about winning one game for Dunphy, and ending the longest losing streak of any coach in the history of the NCAA tournament.

This season, the Owls want more.

Under Dunphy, in his sixth season at Temple, the Owls have become a threat to go deep in March. They knocked off then-No. 5 Duke in January, extending a run of consecutive seasons with a win over a top-10 non-conference team to four.

"These guys," Dunphy said, "have deserved this opportunity."

Moore, Micheal Eric and Juan Fernandez all went 4 for 4 in making NCAA tournaments with the Owls. They have a bigger four in mind now though: the Final Four.

"We want to do something big," Fernandez said, "for the university."

History is not on their side, though. The last time the Owls earned a fifth seed, they were bounced by Cornell in the opening round.

Lehigh snares a No. 15 seed, will take on Duke

Lehigh, which defeated Bucknell in an upset last Wednesday to win the Patriot League tournament title, has been given a No. 15 seed, and will play Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Mountain Hawks (26-7) went 11-3 in conference this season, and defeated Colgate, American, and the Bison to win the tournament.

They will now head to Greensboro, N.C., to take on the Blue Devils, who were given a No. 2 seed after not advancing to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game.

Bridging the regular season with the postseason, Lehigh is riding an eight-game winning streak into the matchup, and hasn't lost since a 71-62 defeat at American on Feb. 9.

Kentucky, Syracuse, N. Carolina, MSU get top seeds

The madness in March Madness began before the brackets even came out. Kentucky, Syracuse and North Carolina all earned top seeding for the NCAA tournament Sunday despite weekend losses that brought even more intrigue to the three-week, 67-game tournament.

Michigan State earned the other No. 1 seed and was the only one of the four top-billed teams to win its conference tournament. The Spartans defeated Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten title game - a contest widely viewed as the game for the last No. 1 seed.

Next up, the NCAA tournament - March Madness - a 68-team free-for-all that starts with first-round games Tuesday. That's the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins March 31 in New Orleans.

Kentucky and Syracuse each enter the tournament with only two losses. Both were shoo-ins for top seeds - selection committee chair Jeff Hathaway all but said so last week - though their recent losses certainly will add more guesswork to those millions of brackets being filled out at spring training sites, corporate board rooms and everywhere else across America.

Syracuse fell to Cincinnati in the Big East semifinals on Friday; Kentucky lost to Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference title game, and the Tar Heels lost to Florida State in the ACC finals Sunday. Combined with Kansas' loss to Baylor in the Big 12 semifinals, this marked only the second time since 2003 that the top four teams in The Associated Press poll all lost in the same week.

Kentucky, placed in the South region, earned the overall No. 1 seed and will open the tournament against the winner of a first-round game between Mississippi Valley State and Western Kentucky. No. 8 seed Iowa State will play defending champion Connecticut. Elsewhere in the South, No. 5 Wichita State plays No. 12 VCU, a Final Four team last year, while No. 4 Indiana plays No. 13 New Mexico State.

On the bottom of that bracket, No. 2 Duke plays No. 15 Lehigh, and No. 7 Notre Dame plays No. 10 Xavier, while No. 3 Baylor plays No. 14 South Dakota State and sixth-seeded UNLV plays 11th-seeded Colorado, which won its way into the bracket by winning the Pac-12 tournament.

In the West, top-seeded Michigan State will begin its quest for its seventh Final Four since 1999 against No. 16 LIU. No. 8 Memphis plays No. 9 St. Louis, as Rick Majerus takes his third team to the NCAA tournament. No. 5 New Mexico plays No. 12 Long Beach State, and No. 4 Louisville plays No. 13 Davidson.

The bottom of the bracket features No. 2 Missouri against No. 15 Norfolk State and No. 7 Florida against No. 10 Virginia. No. 6 Murray State plays No. 11 Colorado State, and No. 3 Marquette will play the winner of a first-round game between 14 seeds BYU and bubble team Iona.

In the East region, No. 1 Syracuse plays No. 16 UNC Asheville and No. 8 Kansas State plays No. 9 Southern Mississippi. No. 5 Vanderbilt plays No. 12 Harvard, and No. 4 Wisconsin plays No. 13 Montana.

On the bottom, No. 2 Ohio State plays No. 15 Loyola (Md.), No. 7 Gonzaga plays No. 10 West Virginia, No. 3 Florida State plays No. 14 St. Bonaventure and No. 6 Cincinnati plays No. 11 Texas, which made it off the bubble.