Not feeling it.
Not yet, and with the clock closing in on tonight’s Big Five clash at the Liacouras Center, not likely, either.
Usually that “upset” vibe kicks in by now, the feel-good tingle that shoots up and down my spine, signaling that something special is about to happen … especially with a personal investment.
But, alas, as the men’s basketball team representing my one alma mater, Temple University, gets set to host the No. 1 team in the nation, Villanova, which also happens to be the Owls’ most bitter city rival, got nothing, nada, zilch.
Thing is, the lacking “inspiration” has everything to do with Temple for me, and nothing with ’Nova. The Wildcats, obviously, are very good. They’re talented. They’re battle-tested, playing in, well, let’s be honest, what has been the most entertaining college basketball conference in the country this season, the Big East – sorry, Power-5 schools; no offense intended, but take it anyway if you wish.
But, right now, at this point, they’re nothing special. If anything, that ranking should draw some serious eyebrow raises by anyone who grasps that coach Jay Wright’s squad got manhandled twice this season, against Oklahoma and Virginia. Sure, both are high-quality outfits, worthy of top-10 status. Still, a No. 1 team checking in with uglier-than-they-read 23- and 11-point losses in a season?
Seems a stretch.
Regardless, the ’Cats ain’t the issue with our “void” here. The Owls are.
Winners of five straight, a run that has thrust them into the highly improbable position of first place in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls don’t seem to have that home-run hitter, that big puncher who can rewrite the predetermined script with some wonderful talent and other-worldly timing.
Put it this way, there isn’t a hoops version of Jahad Thomas on the current Temple roster … and definitely not the second coming of Khalif Wyatt.
Instead, the Owls have kinda embraced the rope-a-dope philosophy throughout 2015-16. Thus far it has served them pretty well, as wins against ranked teams Southern Methodist, Connecticut and Cincinnati will attest. Further, Temple topped the latter two each a second time when they weren’t in the national polls.
So, it has something going on … only not able to put the finger on it here. Which is probably why the upset vibe is missing for this one.
Doesn’t feel anything like this past fall before Temple took on Penn State and ended a 74-year drought against its football in-state Big Brother. Nothing like prior to the Owls hosting America’s most loved and hated team, Duke, four years ago at the Wells Fargo Center, either, when they posted arguably the best of their basketball upsets of top-10 teams in the last eight seasons, a run that has seen Temple pull off at least one in seven of those.
Yep, just not feeling it.
But three words provide hope:
Been wrong before.
- Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
BREAKING IT DOWN