Last Ride

And so it might be apropos if Temple's last Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament involved a matchup against UMass. The 23-8 Owls will kick off their final run as an Atlantic 10 school this weekend in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the new host of a tournament which just finished a good run in Atlantic City and also was held through the years at the Palestra and the Spectrum among other arenas

And so it might be apropos if Temple's last Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Tournament involved a matchup against UMass.

The 23-8 Owls will kick off their final run as an Atlantic 10 school this weekend in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the new host of a tournament which just finished a good run in Atlantic City and also was held through the years at the Palestra and the Spectrum among other arenas.

Perhaps no team has been a better rival for the Owls than the Minutemen as the teams battled for conference supremacy for most of the ‘90s. Third-seeded Temple will meet the winner of No. 6 UMass versus No. 11 George Washington – ironically the two schools who have been in the A-10 longer than Temple, which joined in 1982 – at 9 p.m. on Friday.

"UMass and GW were both close games for us this season," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, noting the Owls' one-point win in Amherst and two-point victory in D.C. "As for it being our last tournament, it's been a great run and this weekend will be bittersweet. I have the utmost confidence in Commissioner Bernadette McGlade that she'll keep the conference moving forward."

Temple will be moving all its sports teams into a league formerly known as the Big East, a name that will be retained by the seven non-football-playing Catholic schools departing the conference after this season. The group of teams remaining and coming in will comprise a new league and hold its conference tournament at a yet-to-be-determined location.

But until then, the Owls will have one more run in the A-10, in an intriguing tournament. Saint Louis picked up the No. 1 overall seed and Virginia Commonwealth – which Temple rallied to beat on Sunday to wrap up a first-round bye and almost certainly a berth in the NCAA Tournament as well - is No. 2. But there is a deep field which includes likely NCAA Tournament teams La Salle (No. 4) and Butler (No. 5).

"I can't imagine a better No. 12 seed in any tournament's history than Dayton," said Butler coach Brad Stevens of the Bulldogs' first-round opponent – the 17-13 Flyers.

Added UMass coach Derek Kellogg: "One great thing is that no matter what happens during the regular season, every team that makes it to Brooklyn is capable of winning the tournament. The No. 1 seed doesn't always win."

While the move to Brooklyn from Atlantic City has been criticized in many circles, Kellogg supports the new venue.

"I think it kind of elevated us a couple notches on a national scene," said Kellogg. "It has a big-time feel to it. New York opens a lot of doors and should give us the respect we deserve nationally."

For the Owls to win the conference tournament – it last won it in 2010, the third straight championship – they will likely have to beat UMass, VCU and Saint Louis, all teams they knocked off during the regular season. Temple also brings a seven-game winning streak into the tournament.

But with the Minutemen and Rams both playing up-tempo, the Owls will certainly be physically tested to win three games in three days.

"We're thrilled to be in the position we're in," said Dunphy. "Beyond that, we'll see who we play on Friday and plan a strategy. We can't think beyond that. We're just going to try to be successful against a tough opponent and keep playing."

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