Temple took a tumble in the NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings following Saturday’s home loss to Penn, leaving the Owls with plenty of work to do before January ends if they want to move back into contention for an NCAA tournament berth.
The Owls, who began last week with a NET ranking of 44, dropped to 61st because of their 77-70 defeat at the hands of the Quakers. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi on Tuesday had Temple as the last team in his “second four out” of the tournament field, whereas last week the Owls were among the “last four in.”
Temple can pick up some positive momentum in the next nine days. The Owls take on Memphis (NET No. 66) and Cincinnati (No. 32) on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, at the Liacouras Center. Then on Jan. 31 comes the rematch at No. 7 Houston, a team they defeated, 73-69, at home on Jan. 9.
The Penn loss was the Owls’ first this season in Quadrant 3 -- losing at home to a team ranked between 76th and 160th -- after a 4-0 start. The Quakers are ranked 92nd, up from last week’s No. 126.
According to current NCAA figures, Temple has two games remaining against Quadrant 1 opponents -- next week at Houston and Feb. 26 at Memphis.
Lunardi includes three AAC teams in his latest bracket: Houston as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest, Cincinnati as a No. 8 in the West, and Central Florida as a No. 10 in the Midwest.
As for Villanova, the Wildcats dropped one notch from 27 to 28 in the NET rankings in the past week after playing one game, an 85-75 home win Friday over Xavier that rated as a Quadrant 3 win against the No. 80 Musketeers.
Their two scheduled games this week were Tuesday night at No. 43 Butler (Quadrant 1) and Sunday versus No. 56 Seton Hall (Quadrant 2) at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Wildcats slipped a rung in Lunardi’s latest bracket to a No. 6 seed in the Midwest from last week’s No. 5, with a projected matchup in Hartford, Conn., against the winner of a play-in game between Minnesota and VCU.
The current prediction for the Big East is four teams, with Marquette (No. 4 seed in the South), St. John’s (No. 10 in the West) and Seton Hall (No. 11 in the East) in the field. Butler is the first team out in Lunardi’s bracket even though the Bulldogs’ NET ranking is 13 spots better than that of Seton Hall.
Villanova, ranked 18th this week in the AP poll, still has its two conference games remaining against No. 12 Marquette, Feb. 9 in Milwaukee and Feb. 27 at Finneran Pavilion.