What: Temple (5-0) at Villanova (4-3)
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Pavilion, Villanova, Pa.
TV/Radio: ESPN2/WPHT 1210-AM
Off to their best start in a quarter century, Temple’s schedule through the first five games has been light so far, but that is about to change as a crucial week has arrived for the Owls.
Big 5 basketball has a chronicled history within the realm of college athletics, especially considering that Philadelphia is considered basketball heaven to many. The rivalries within the five-team field are even better. No matter the record or current statuses of the institutions that butt heads during the highly anticipated matchups, the games always seem to satisfy us all.
On Wednesday night, another chapter will be written on national television when the undefeated Temple Owls to the Main Line to take on a Villanova team that is looking to return back to its glory days that were a regularity a few seasons ago.
The game will be a preview of future Big East rivals, as well, as Temple leaves the Atlantic 10 to join the Wildcats in the Big East beginning next season.
Of all the Big 5 rivalries, Temple vs. Villanova is up with the best reflecting the successful history of both programs, behind the “Holy War” between St. Joe’s and Villanova.
Temple and Villanova rank among the top-30 in all-time victories in Division I men’s basketball and both teams, including players and coaches cannot help but glance at their respective schedules before the season to see when they will link up.
It is a rivalry that has been in place since the 1954-55 season when the Big 5 was constructed and, throughout the last decade, the Wildcats have clipped the Owls’ wings in seven of their last 10 regular-season meetings.
Over the years, the matchup between the Wildcats and Owls has featured its share of professional talent and thrilling contests. With Villanova being Temple’s first tough task of the season, Wednesday projects to be another superb game.
“We’re gonna watch a lot of film this week,” Temple guard Khalif Wyatt said. “Just prepare for Nova, they’re a good team, it’s a Big 5 game. It’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be a great atmosphere.
“It’s gonna be a Big 5 dandy.”
After starting 3-0, Villanova’s inexperience has shown as of late and the Wildcats have lost three of their last four games, but nothing would satisfy Villanova more than handing Temple its first loss of the season.
It is Villanova’s first of three straight games against teams inside Philadelphia as Penn and St. Joe’s loom on the schedule following Wednesday.
It is a bitter and contested rivalry with bragging rights on the line time each and every time the two squads take the floor.
“I hope we’ll be ready to go from the start,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “It’s a big week for us. Obviously Villanova is a fantastic basketball program and it’s going to be a tough game out there.”
With Duke craving for a chance of revenge on Temple this Saturday, it is pertinent that the Owls do not look past Villanova, because if they do such a thing, the Wildcats will gladly give the cherry and white an uppercut to the jaw.
“The only thing we can do as a team is prepare,” Owls senior forward Scootie Randall said. “Only thing the coaches can do with us is show us film and talk about what’s gonna happen, but us as players, we got to find a way to get it done.
“Whatever you do to prepare for a team, it doesn’t really matter. Each and every program, even the best programs like Kentucky, whatever you do doesn’t matter. It’s all about when the lights come on and the tipoff comes. It’s how you play, how you perform.”
-Scouting Temple: Wyatt is coming off one of the best games of his career after dropping 26 points on Saturday vs. Wagner. … The matchup between sophomore center Anthony Lee and Villanova senior center Mouphtaou Yarou will be a good one. Lee is much more athletic, but Yarou has the obvious size advantage at 6-10 255 pounds. … Look for Dunphy to use a lot of his experienced players vs. a Villanova team that consists of only two seniors.
-Scouting Villanova: After a torrid start to the season, freshman guard Ryan Arcidiacono has slowed down a bit. After averaging 16.3 ppg through Nova’s first four games, Arcidiacono is averaging 8.3 ppg in his last 3 games. Although his production has dropped off, he still leads the team in scoring with 12.9 ppg. … James Bell, now a junior, is averaging a career-high 10.7 ppg and is a versatile player on offense. At 6-6, Bell could give Temple guards some problems. … JayVaughn Pinkston also presents Temple with a big body. At 6-6, 240 pounds, Pinkston can also present some matchup problems, as he comes into Wednesday averaging 12 points and 5 assists per game.
-Sound Off: Does Villanova present enough problems for Temple to hand the Owls their first loss of the season?
-Wyatt named Big 5 PoW: Temple senior guard Khalif Wyatt was named Big 5 Player of the Week on Monday. More HERE.
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