No. 22 Temple, the three-time defending Atlantic Ten Conference champ, faces Seton Hall of the Big East at the Liacouras Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Owls begin the season ranked among the top 25 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
St. Joseph's will introduce the youngest squad of the 16-year Phil Martelli era when Western Kentucky goes to Hagan Arena at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Hawks' roster includes five freshmen and three sophomores. Success will largely be determined by the development of a freshman group that includes 6-foot-9 C.J. Aiken of state champion Plymouth-Whitemarsh High and guard Langston Galloway, a Louisiana native who is the nephew of assistant coach Geoff Arnold.
There will be no easing into the season for St. Joe's, which went 11-20 last season. Talented and experienced, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are the choice to win the Sun Belt East Division. The Hawks will have their hands full with senior forwards Juan Pattillo, a transfer from Oklahoma, and Steffphon Pettigrew.
Decimated by injuries a year ago, La Salle opens against Columbia at Gola Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. with a combination of experience and youthful talent capable of turning the Explorers into a team to be reckoned with in the A-10. Aaric Murray, a 6-10 sophomore, will be an interesting study this season after an up-and-down freshman year. If Murray realizes his potential, he'll likely enter the NBA draft.
Fifth-year senior Ruben Guillandeaux and freshman Tyreek Duren should give La Salle plenty of options in the backcourt. Guillandeaux was granted a fifth year as a medical hardship. After playing in four games in 2009-10, the 6-5 guard missed the remainder of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. Duren is a dynamic point guard from Neumann-Goretti.
Drexel is the lone city team that will open on the road, facing Loyola in Baltimore on Friday at 8 p.m. The Dragons are picked to finish sixth in the tough Colonial Athletic Association. Coach Bruiser Flint has only three seniors on the roster.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.