John Smallwood: Long-term effects of Temple's big win over Maryland

Posted: December 06, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Temple won't know the full impact of a result like this until a fateful Sunday night in March.

The power brokers of NCAA Division I basketball won't eliminate a mid-major from championship consideration the way the Bowl Championship Series all but shuts out football programs from non-BCS conferences.

Still make no mistake; mid-majors generally end up on the wrong side of the benefit of the doubt on Selection Sunday.

If there is a borderline call between a mid-major and a power conference school, the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac 10 or Southeastern Conference usually will come out with an additional bid.

So yes, Temple's 64-61 victory over the University of Maryland last night in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center was a little more than just an early season test.

It was a chance for the Owls (5-2) to enhance a nonconference resume that will most likely come into play come NCAA Tournament time.

"I think every win is a much-needed win and Maryland is certainly a tremendous basketball program," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said, downplaying the down-the-road significance of beating an Atlantic Coast Conference program in its own backyard.

Coaches don't get in the habit of looking much further than the next game, but Maryland is exactly the type of program that Temple, if it doesn't get an automatic bid, could find itself sitting on the bubble with in front of the selection committee.

The Terps (6-3) were picked to finish in the middle of the ACC.

If Maryland finishes close to that or better, it is guaranteed to be on the radar of the selection committee.

Temple would have a hard time getting the same kind of consideration if it finished in the middle of the Atlantic 10.

At-large bids out of the Atlantic 10 usually are fought out between a few league schools with similar records vying for the same limited spots.

Former Temple coach John Chaney mastered the formula for getting at-large bids for mid-major teams.

Do well in your league and load up on big boys out of conference.

A school like Temple from the Atlantic 10 Conference doesn't have the luxury of loading up on nonleague cupcakes.

Easy wins like that don't really help the resume because the conference itself doesn't get the same respect that the ACC or Big East does.

A power conference school with a .500 conference record and 18 or 19 wins still will get more consideration than a mid-major with 20-plus wins but the vast majority being conference victories.

But with a nonconference schedule that features Seton Hall, California, Georgia, Texas A&M, Maryland, Georgetown, Villanova and Duke, the Owls will have an impressive strength of schedule on its resume.

A strong league record with a .500 or better record against an out-of-conference like that fits right into the established formula.

"Every win is important for us as we go about our journey through the season," Dunphy said. "We schedule tough games, but here's a program like Maryland that is going to come to Philadelphia next year.

"Georgetown, we went there last year, and they're coming back to us. To have that quality opponent to come back to our home area is what you want."

What you want even more are victories over those kinds of quality opponents.

The Owls' victories over Seton Hall of the Big East and Georgia of the Southeastern Conference had been almost negated by losses to California of the Pac-10 and Texas A&M of the Big 12.

The Maryland win now puts them at 3-2 against power conference teams with Georgetown up next on Thursday at the Liacouras Center.

You have to remember the domino effect - Temple gets some amount of credit for the victories that its opponents get.

Temple quickly lost its Top 25 ranking but is now climbing its way back.

With Ramone Moore scoring 16 points, Juan Fernandez 14, Lavoy Allen 13 and Scootie Randall 10, the Owls may have had their most balanced game of the season.

"We need to have that and I think every coach will tell you the same thing," said Dunphy, who notched his 399th career victory. "When you have balanced scoring, nobody can figure out one guy.

"If you have that case and they shut him down, our team is not very potent offensively. But when we spread it around as we did tonight, it's terrific for us."

It's still a long ways down the road, but a couple of weeks into March we might find out that a December victory over Maryland could end up being terrific for Temple.

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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