Villanova is in the middle of one of the most amazing runs in the history of the Big Five, having gone 21-1 in its last 22 City Series games and with a chance to sweep through its four opponents for the fourth time in five seasons.

But before the third-ranked Wildcats (9-0) can enjoy what they've accomplished, they must go to the Liacouras Center today for their Big Five finale and defeat Temple, which has developed into one of the best defensive outfits in the country.

In their last game, the Owls outscored Miami of Ohio, 25-0, during one stretch en route to a 64-42 road victory Tuesday night.

"Just seeing Temple winning by 22 on the road, I'm like, 'Whoa!' " Villanova coach Jay Wright said after the Wildcats defeated St. Joseph's, 97-89, Wednesday night.

"You go on the road in the MAC and you beat a good team by 22, you're good."

At 7-2, Fran Dunphy's Owls are making their season debut in the Big Five and are off to their best start since 1994-95.

In the latest NCAA statistics report, the Owls were sixth in the nation in points allowed (52.9) and were allowing teams to shoot only 37.0 percent from the field.

Ryan Brooks leads the Owls in scoring at 13.7 points per game, and Lavoy Allen averages 12.0 points and 9.4 rebounds.

Playing their third straight away game, the Wildcats have defeated Maryland (95-86) and St. Joseph's in the past week. Five players are averaging double figures, led by Scottie Reynolds' 16.0-point average.

"Believe it or not, it's more relaxing knowing you can score," Wright said. "The scariest thing is when you worry about your team and whether it's going to go through droughts."

A key matchup will be Temple's defense against Villanova's two best three-point shooters. Taylor King, a transfer from Duke, is shooting 46.7 percent from beyond the arc and leads the Wildcats with 21 treys. Teammate Corey Stokes has knocked down 17.

Contact staff writer Joe Juliano at 215-854-4494 or jjuliano@phillynews.com.