A year after being the first team left out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Temple had a much different - and surprising - fate this year.

Not only did the Owls earn their first NCAA berth since 2013, on the heels of their 77-62 American Athletic Conference semifinal loss to Connecticut on Saturday, they also avoided the dreaded play-in game in Dayton.

Temple (21-11) is the No. 10 seed in the South Region and will play No. 7 Iowa (21-10) in the first round, Friday in Brooklyn. It's the second game of the afternoon doubleheader, following the matchup at 12:40 p.m. between No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 UNC-Asheville.

"There was a lot of excitement for me and my teammates just hearing our name called," said Temple captain Jaylen Bond. "It was great."

The NCAA tournament committee showed great respect for the AAC, the one in which Temple was regular-season champion.

Last season, only SMU and Cincinnati represented the conference in the NCAA tournament. This year, despite SMU's being ineligible for the tournament because of NCAA sanctions, four AAC teams earned bids.

UConn and Cincinnati both earned No. 9 seeds, and Tulsa, which was clobbered by Memphis, 89-67, in the AAC quarterfinals, earned a play-in game as a No. 11 seed, the final team to make the tournament.

Joe Castiglione, the athletic director at Oklahoma and chair of the Division I men's basketball committee, talked about Temple's strong points in making the field.

"Temple had five top 50 wins, seven top 100 wins," Castiglione said in a teleconference. "They had really good road wins at UConn and Cincinnati, a win over SMU."

The knock on the Owls was they didn't have a prestige win outside the AAC, which Castiglione acknowledged.

"There was a lack of quality non-conference wins, but in the end they were deemed to be one of the best 36 at-large teams," Castiglione said.

There will be no shortage of local story lines when Temple meets Iowa.

It is a team coached by former Penn guard and La Salle High graduate Fran McCaffery.

"Obviously [McCaffery] is a Philly guy, a good man and a good friend," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "We know we will have our hands full, but we are grateful to be in the tournament."

There is another Philadelphia subplot. If Temple is able to upset the Hawkeyes, the likely second-round opponent would be Villanova.

The Owls aren't concerned at this point with Villanova, which earned an 83-67 win over Temple on Feb. 17 at the sold-out Liacouras Center.

Temple's thoughts will be only of Iowa. The Owls do not want to be lured into a false sense of security because the Hawkeyes are reeling entering the NCAA tournament.

Once considered a potential No. 1 seed, Iowa has lost five of its last six games and six of eight. Iowa was bounced in its first game in the Big 10 yournament, 68-66, by a nondescript Illinois team that finished 15-19 overall and 5-13 in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes have a dominant player in Jarrod Uthoff, a 6-foot-9 senior who is averaging 18.9 points and 6.4 rebounds and is shooting 39.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Peter Jok, a 6-6 junior, averages 16.2 points and is shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range.

This Iowa team will likely be a handful despite its late-season swoon. It did beat Michigan State twice this season.

The Temple players don't know much about the Hawkeyes but will likely be bleary-eyed from watching tape between now and Friday.

On this night, they were just euphoric, especially after missing out last year.

After a two-year break, the Owls have returned to the Big Dance, the 32nd time that Temple has qualified.

"There was a lot of nervousness, and once our name was called, it was sigh of relief," point guard Josh Brown said. "The monkey came off our back."

Temple talked about getting back to business Monday at practice. On Sunday, however, it was a time to savor the present.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard