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College Notebook: Positioning for postseason

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 5

Beating Villanova and winning the Big Five title for the first time since 2002 will be bittersweet if Penn doesn’t qualify for the Ivy League Tournament.

The Quakers (17-11 overall, 5-7 Ivy League) trail fourth-place Brown (6-6 Ivy) by one game for the final berth in the Ivy League Tournament. They have two games remaining, with their regular-season finale set for Saturday (6 p.m.) against Brown at the Palestra.

Before facing Brown, Penn will host Yale, the Ivy League co-leader, on Friday (7 p.m.). In an interesting schedule quirk, Brown will visit third-place Princeton on Friday at 4 p.m., so the Quakers will know the outcome of Brown’s game before taking the floor against Yale. A Brown victory over Princeton would require Penn to win both of its weekend games to qualify for the postseason.

If Brown loses to Princeton, Penn could lose to Yale and still make the playoffs by beating Brown on Saturday. With head-to-head matchups being the first tie-breaker, Penn would advance to the playoffs with a 2-0 record against Brown

Cornell (5-7 Ivy) could also be part of the mix. Cornell, loser of five straight games, has its work cut out for it Friday (7 p.m.) when it hosts Harvard, which is tied for first place with Yale. But Cornell hosts last-place Dartmouth on Saturday (7 p.m.) in its regular-season finale. A three-way tie, with Penn beating Brown to get all three teams to finish 6-6 would also favor the Quakers because they have split two games with Cornell and would have won both against Brown.

The Quakers would be a dangerous fourth-place finisher in the Ivy League Tournament. First, however, they need to get into the tournament.


MAKING STATEMENT: Although Temple’s predicament during the final week isn’t as dire as Penn’s, it’s still important for the Owls to finish strong. Temple (21-8 overall, 11-5 American Athletic Conference).

Temple is on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Wins Thursday (7 p.m.) at Connecticut and Saturday (4 p.m.) against Central Florida would give the Owls 23 wins and limit them to single-digit losses when being considered by the NCAA Tournament committee. Basically, the better shape the Owls are in entering the AAC Tournament, the less they have to do in the tournament to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

A win over Central Florida in head coach Fran Dunphy’s final regular-season game could also move the Owls into a third-place tie with Central Florida, depending on what happens in games earlier this week. Temple’s performance against Connecticut and Central Florida could determine if the Owls need to reach the AAC semifinals or AAC finals in order to reach the NCAA Tournament.


TITLE ON THE LINE: Villanova  (22-8 overall, 13-4 Big East) will try to fend off Marquette this week to clinch the Big East regular-season championship. The Wildcats’ only remaining game is Saturday (noon at Seton Hall). Marquette (23-6, 12-4 Big East) hosts Georgetown on Saturday (2:30 p.m.) in its regular-season finale. The Wildcats split two games with the Golden Eagles this season, with sophomore Jermaine Samuels scoring a career-high 29 points during a 67-61 win over Marquette on Wed., Feb. 27.

Barring a surprise winner of the Big East Tournament, Villanova and Marquette are likely to be the Big East’s only representatives in the NCAA Tournament. No other team has a winning record in the conference.


FINISHING STRONG: Saint Joseph’s would have to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament in order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, but the Hawks have an opportunity to finish the regular season on a roll. The Hawks (13-16 overall, 6-10 Atlantic 10) have won two straight games entering Tuesday’s game against visiting Rhode Island (7 p.m.) and Friday’s regular-season finale at VCU (9 p.m.). If the Hawks, who recently got guard Lamarr Kimble back from injury, finish the regular-season with four straight wins, they might be a team to avoid during conference tournament.


DRAMATIC RECOVERY: La Salle has made a remarkable recovery from an 0-10 start to build its record to 9-19 overall and 7-9 in the Atlantic 10. An upset over host Dayton on Wednesday (7 p.m.) would enable the Explorers to finish with at least a .500 conference record, an amazing accomplishment after how poorly they started.


DIFFICULT OPENER: Drexel (13-18 overall, 7-11 Colonial Athletic Association) didn’t receive the best draw in the CAA Tournament. The Dragons open the tournament Sunday (8:30 p.m.) against Charleston (23-8, 12-6 CAA), which also is the host team of the tournament. The crowd will likely be hostile to the Dragons.


TOUGH DRAW: Saint Joseph’s, the eighth seed, defeated visiting George Washington, 61-49, on Tuesday to earn a meeting with top-seeded VC on Friday (11 p.m.) in the Atlantic 10 Women’s Tournament.


UPAND DOWN: The Villanova women’s basketball team will open the Big East Tournament on Sunday (3:30 p.m.) against Georgetown. The Wildcats (18-11 overall, 9-9 Big East) split the regular-season series with the Hoyas, losing on Jan. 18, 68-63, before embarrassing the Hoyas, 91-43, on Feb. 16.


FAMILIAR FOE: Temple’s women’s team will open the American Athletic Conference on Friday (8 p.m.) against Memphis at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Ct. The Owls (11-18 overall, 7-0 AAC) should be familiar with Memphis, having outscored Memphis by 29 points during the second half of Monday’s 84-53 triumph..


BATTLING FOR FIRST: With two games remaining in the regular season, Penn’s women’s team (20-5 overall, 10-2 Ivy League) is battling Princeton (18-9, 10-2 Ivy) for the Ivy League regular-season crown. The Quakers finish their regular-season schedule Friday at Yale (6 p.m.) and Saturday at Brown (6 p.m.). Princeton switches places with the Quakers this weekend, visiting Brown on Friday (7 p.m.) and then Yale on Saturday (5 p.m.).

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