For the Temple Men’s Basketball team it would be very easy to get upset with how the regular season came to an end. After going 13-5 in the American Athletic Conference and having an overall record of 23-10, Temple’s bubble was burst on Selection Sunday. The conciliation prize was the #1 overall seed in college basketball’s second tier tournament, the NIT. For most teams the letdown of getting this close to the big dance would ruin a season but when it comes to the 2014-15 Owls, it’s another achievement! With a 26-10 record going into tonight’s Semi-Final against Miami the Owls have posted the best turnaround (+17 wins) of any team in the country this season. Now Temple has its chance to win a third NIT title in school history while playing in The World’s Most Famous Arena!
Point Guard and leading scorer Sheldon McClellan will lead Miami into Madison Square Garden to take on Temple’s veteran Guard combo of Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey. Will Cummings has been the catalyst in Temple’s comeback season and is red-hot in NIT play, averaging 22 PPG. A post season win against a formidable ACC opponent will not only prepare the Owls for the NIT Championship but will give them major momentum moving forward into next season. The winner of tonight’s contest will play the winner Old Dominion and Stanford on Thursday night.
On Saturday afternoon two Mid-Major heavy weights will meet in Cedar Falls, Iowa for the first of two meetings that will take place over the next month. Wichita State will be visiting Northern Iowa in the first matchup between two nationally ranked Missouri Valley Conference schools since 1982. Both teams have earned these rankings by putting together 19-2 starts while beating plenty of bigger opponents on the way. The winner on Saturday will be on the fast track to a number one seed going into the MVC Tournament.
The Panthers and Shockers are two of the hottest teams in all of college basketball by winning 8 and 9 games in a row respectively. Defending MVC Champion Wichita State is led by Veteran sharp shooter Ron Baker as well as a very experienced surrounding cast that only lost one game last season. Northern Iowa will lean on its ‘do-everything’ Senior Seth Tuttle Saturday afternoon. To beat Northern Iowa you need to shut down Tuttle who leads the Panthers this season in points, rebounds, and assists per game. Will Wichita State continue its dominance in the MVC or are the Panthers going to emerge as the team to beat?
This weekend’s FCS title between 14-1 North Dakota State and 13-1 Illinois State is also a match-up between two teams that shared this year’s Missouri Valley Football Conference Championship. Although they didn’t meet on the field this season, both squads finished with a conference record of 7-1. With almost identical records, the tale of these schools couldn’t be more different. Heavy favorite North Dakota State enters the game hoping to win its fourth straight National Championship while Illinois State hopes to bring Normal, Illinois home its first football title!
For the Redbirds to pull the upset, they’ll need All-MVFC Quarterback Tre Roberson to have a huge game. He’s had a monster year thus far, averaging 353 yards of total offense a game and an efficiency rating of 172. The job of stopping Roberson will be given to Bison, All-American Defensive-End and Buck Buchanan Award winner, Kyle Emanuel. Will NDSU match Northern Iowa in the early 90’s with four straight titles or can Illinois State emerge as the new FCS power? Tune in Saturday to see!