Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Wildcats long shots to repeat as champions

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 17

Villanova certainly isn’t expected to successfully defend its national championship. The 25th-ranked Wildcats are ranked sixth in the South Region.

Temple isn’t worried about seeding. The Owls are happy just to be in the tournament.

Temple (23-9) was one of the last four teams in the tournament, which is why it will have to play in a “first four” game Tuesday (9:10 p.m.) against Belmont (26-5) in Dayton, Ohio. If the Owls advance, they will face Maryland, the sixth seed in the East Region.

The past few days have been an anxious time for the Owls, who must have been nervous about their tournament chances after losing to Wichita State in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. But they didn’t have to wait long to hear their name called during Sunday’s Selection Sunday special.

The NCAA Tournament bid is a nice reward for Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, who is in his 13th and final season with the Owls. Dunphy is making his 17th trip to the NCAA Tournament, which ties legendary Temple head coach John Chaney for the most NCAA Tournament appearances with a Big 5 school. Nine of Dunphy’s appearances were with Penn.

Villanova (25-9) has won two of the past three NCAA championships. Despite winning the Big East regular-season and tournament titles, becoming the first Big East team to win three straight conference tournaments, the Wildcats are seeded one spot lower than Marquette, which was the runner-up during the regular season and was eliminated in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

The first obstacle in the Wildcats’ way is 11th-seeded St. Mary’s. The teams will square off on Thursday (7:20 p.m.) at Hartford. The winner will face the winner of Thursday’s game between 3rd-seeded Purdue and 14th-seeded Old Dominion.

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