No. 21 Villanova Hosts Temple Looking For 24th Straight Big 5 Win

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, December 4, 2018 4:51 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 4:51 PM UTC

The Villanova Wildcats have owned the Philadelphia Big 5 series, but are they vulnerable to that 23-game winning streak ending Wednesday vs. Temple?

Temple (7-1 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) at No. 21 Villanova (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS)Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1)Free NCAAB Pick: Owls ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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If you aren’t familiar with the Big 5 series in the City of Philadelphia, it’s an annual round-robin type of competition between basketball programs Villanova, Temple, Penn, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. Villanova, the defending national champion, is the only program in the Big 5 in a power conference so it generally dominates this series as it should.

On Wednesday against Temple at Finneran Pavilion on the Villanova campus, the Cats look for their 24th straight win against Big 5 competition. The Wildcats haven't lost a city series game since Dec. 5, 2012 against Temple.

However, this year’s Villanova team might be vulnerable. Nothing wrong with losing to Michigan, but by 27 points at home? That’s what the Cats did on Nov. 14. They also were stunned at home by Furman in overtime on Nov. 17 but have won four straight since. That includes a quality win over then-No. 14 Florida State to win the AdvoCare Invitational and then 85-78 at La Salle to open Big 5 play on Saturday. Eric Paschall scored 27 points and Phil Booth had 19 in a game that shouldn’t have been so close because La Salle is freaking terrible. Nova was a 16-point favorite.

Coach Jay Wright doesn’t have a ton of depth this year and he’s playing Paschall and Booth, his senior leaders, too many minutes. Paschall played all but one minute against La Salle and Booth 37 of 40. The only reserve that Wright seems to trust is senior guard Joe Cremo. No other bench player got more than five minutes on Saturday.

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All the highlights from last night's come from behind WIN over St. Joe's! pic.twitter.com/pVGPWKQbyN

— Temple Men's BBall (@TUMBBHoops) December 2, 2018
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Best Start In 6 Years For Temple

Temple’s only loss was by six points to a good VCU team on Nov. 19 in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. The Owls have wins over power conference teams Georgia, California and Missouri. They are 2-0 in Big 5 play after a 77-70 win at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday (Owls opened season with 75-67 win over La Salle). Saint Joseph's led by as many as 11 points late in the first half, and by nine early in the second half.

Temple started a horrid 3-for-24 from 3-point range before getting hot when it counted. The Owls also were 17-for-18 from the free-throw line, including 8-for-8 the final minute or so. Senior Shizz Alston Jr. is the star and had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds. He’s tied for the team lead in scoring (17.1 ppg) and leads in assists (5.8 apg).

This is Temple’ best start since going 8-1 in 2012-13. It’s the final year as head coach for Fran Dunphy as current associate head coach Aaron McKie will take over after the season.

The Owls lost to 87-67 at home to Villanova last year when the Cats were ranked No. 1. Jalen Brunson, now in the NBA, led Nova with 31 points and Omari Spellman, also now in the NBA, had 27. The Wildcats shot 60 percent. Quinton Rose, currently tied with Alston as the Temple scoring leader, had 27 points. It was the third year in a row Nova was ranked No. 1 when facing Temple.

  • Owls are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Wednesday games.

Not ready to predict an upset, but we like Temple – which has beaten at least one ranked team in 11 straight seasons -- and the points for a Wednesday NCAAB pick. The Owls have covered both lined road games, while Nova is just 1-3 ATS at home.

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