After sneaking into this year’s NCAA Tournament, can the No. 11-seeded Temple Owls pull off a win against the No. 11 seeded Belmont Bruins in Tuesday’s First Four play-in matchup?
Not according to longtime ESPN men’s basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who likes Owls guards Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose, but doesn’t see Temple moving on in the tournament.
“I think Belmont will get by Temple,” Bilas predicted on ESPN’s Bracketology program Sunday night. "Belmont is legit. [Senior forward] Dylan Windler is a great basketball player. They lead the nation in assists, they average about 18-19 points in transition.”
That’s not to say Bilas doesn’t have respect for the Owls or head coach Fran Dunphy, who is retiring after 30 seasons coaching at Penn and Temple. Bilas has highlighted Dunphy’s coaching many times over the years, and included him in a 2011 list of the most underappreciated and undervalued coaches in college basketball.
“Dunphy is not widely recognized as being among the great coaches in the game because he goes about his work quietly and shies away from the limelight,” Bilas wrote. “Dunphy is an old-school coach that is a teacher first, and his teams always defend and are disciplined.”
But not everyone thinks a Temple loss is a foregone conclusion. Not only is Dick Jerardi predicting a win over Belmont, he thinks Temple will go on to upset No. 6 seed Maryland when the first round of the tournament begins on Thursday, March 31.
“The numbers do not point Temple’s way against Belmont, but they are close enough that I can take the Owls,” Jerardi wrote. “And if they do get through, I think they can beat Maryland, which faded at the end of the season.”
No. 11 Temple at No. 11 Belmont: First Four match-up
When: Tuesday, March 19
Where: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Time: 9:10 p.m. tipoff (will immediately follow No. 16 Prairie View A&M vs. No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson)
TV: TruTV (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Dana Jacobson)
Radio: 94.1 WIP via Westwood One (Ted Emrich, Austin Croshere)
Streaming: NCAA March Madness Live (requires authentication, but has a free three-hour trial), TruTV app (requires authentication), Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Playstation Vue, DirectTV Now, Fubo TV (all require a subscription)
» PRINTABLE BRACKET: 2019 NCAA Tournament
» FULL SCHEDULE: March Madness game times, TV schedule, announcers
Studio coverage begins on TruTV at 6 p.m. from Turner Studios in Atlanta. Host Casey Stern will be joined by Brendan Haywood, Seth Davis and Candace Parker.
What to know about Temple
• This will be the first time Temple has ever played Belmont. Don’t expect them to be pushovers, writes Marc Narducci.
• Belmont is a 3.5-point favorite against Temple, but the Owls are 6-3-1 against the spread as an underdog, according to Ed Barkowitz.
• Temple has been really good at two things, writes Dick Jerardi: steals (12 percent of their defensive possessions, 11th nationally) and winning close games, 8-1.
• The crowd at Monday’s Coaches vs. Cancer breakfast applauded Dunphy out of the Palestra. Mike Jensen has the details.
What to know about Belmont
• The Bruins have two main scoring threats, writes Marc Narducci: Seniors Dylan Winder (21.4 ppg) and Kevin McLaine (16.3 ppg).
• Belmont has the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation with 87.4 points per game, just 1.4 points behind No. 1 seed Gonzaga. They also rank first in assists with 19.9 per game.
• The Bruins have been to the NCAA Tournament seven times, but this is the first time in school history they’ve received an at-large bid.