X Factor

To be the man you gotta beat the man, it was once said in an arena much different than the one where Temple will face Xavier in a big Atlantic 10 men's basketball contest on Saturday. But the premise is still the same, and Xavier has been "the man" in the A-10 for the last five years. A victory for the Owls on Saturday night would go a long towards breaking that string.

To be the man you gotta beat the man, it was once said in an arena much different than the one where Temple will face Xavier in a big Atlantic 10 men's basketball contest on Saturday.

But the premise is still the same, and Xavier has been "the man" in the A-10 for the last five years.

The Musketeers have won or shared the last five A-10 regular-season titles, and a victory for the Owls on Saturday night would go a long towards breaking that string.

Temple takes an 18-5 overall record and 7-2 league mark into Saturday's showdown. Xavier is one of three teams right behind at 7-3 in the A-10 and 16-8 overall.

Oddly, the Musketeers haven't even reached an A-10 final during their run of domination as Temple has won three of the A-10 tournament crowns. Atlantic City has been the Musketeers' kryptonite, and their loss to Richmond in the semis last year aside, it has been the Owls who are at the top of the mountain in the three-game-in-three-day format.

Still, there is something to be said for a team that can outlast the rest of the conference during the 16-game A-10 grind. Xavier was 70-12 over the last five seasons, winning the league title outright three times and sharing it on two occasions – including with Temple two years ago.

They have also performed better than the Owls in the NCAA Tournament of late, reaching the Sweet 16 from 2008 to 2010, including an Elite Eight showing in 2008.

As much as the Owls have brought strong non-conference teams to Philadelphia – Duke, Maryland, Georgetown and Tennessee to name a few over the last few years – it is still always a big deal when the Musketeers come to town.

"Xavier certainly has been at the upper echelon of our league, as long as I've been in it and certainly longer than that as well," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, now in his sixth year. "I think we will get a great crowd on Saturday. It will be an ESPN game, so we're proud to have that quality of program come to us. It will be a great, great contest for us.

"They're a great basketball team. They will be a great, great challenge for us. They are as good a program as we have in our league and have been for a long, long time."

If Temple can beat the Musketeers and go up a game-and-a-half with six to go, it will go a long way towards ending the Xavier dynasty. The Owls already own a win over Saint Louis and they host Massachusetts later in the season, giving them a path to the crown and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere (Saturday), it's one of those games the crowd is going to be into it, and we have to come out prepared," said senior guard Ramone Moore after Temple's lackluster win over George Washington Wednesday. "If we come out the way we did tonight, it will be a different result."

The Owls are still building to become the standard bearer in the current A-10, but their conference tournament success and solid regular seasons have them a solid No. 2.

With a strong nucleus returning next year, not to mention five more players – three recruits and two who sat out this season – Temple is gaining towards being No. 1.

But to be the man, you gotta beat the man. And Temple can take a big step towards becoming the man on Saturday night.

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