Numbers Game

The magic numbers when it comes to the end of the season for the Temple men's basketball team are 22, 10 and <40. The numbers represent overall wins, victories in conference and RPI. The thrilling one-point win at Dayton Saturday put the Owls on the right path to reaching all those numbers – which if they do should result in an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament.

The magic numbers when it comes to the end of the season for the Temple men's basketball team are 22, 10 and <40.

The numbers represent overall wins, victories in conference and RPI. The thrilling one-point win at Dayton Saturday put the Owls on the right path to reaching all those numbers – which if they do should result in an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament.

Temple's chances of achieving those markers didn't look as good a week ago after a tough loss at St. Joe's. The Owls' RPI was 54, they were under .500 in the Atlantic 10 and they had a couple tough games coming up in Charlotte and Dayton, games they knew they had to win but that weren't gimmees.

After securing a pair of one-point victories, the Owls jumped to 40 on the RPI, a solid number if the season were to end today. They still have chances to move up with home games against No. 32 La Salle and No. 39 Virginia Commonwealth this season.

Temple already has one win against a team in the top 50 (Syracuse) and five over teams in the top 100. Beat those two teams – and No. 73 Detroit, also at the Liacouras Center – just by protecting the home court and eight wins over top-100 teams would be a hard resume to turn down for the NCAA committee.

While upcoming contests against Duquesne, Fordham and Rhode Island might not help those RPI numbers, they should inflate the win totals and improve the Owls' seeding in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Had Temple lost to Dayton, it would have been 4-5 in the league and found itself battling just for a spot in the 12-team field. But 5-4 looks a lot better than 4-5, and if the Owls take care of business against the three teams not favored to make the field, they will have eight wins and counting.

If Temple manages to split the other four games – at Massachusetts, at Charlotte, home against La Salle, home against VCU – it would get to 10 wins and a likely top-five finish in the league, which not only should improve chances of going deeper in the tournament but looks better than finishing ninth. The top four receive byes.

A 5-2 finish in the A-10 and a win over Detroit would give the Owls 22 wins, 10 in conference and likely an RPI in the upper-30s and it's a lock for selection.

But any stumble affects all the numbers and would leave Temple with work to do when they arrive in Brooklyn.

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