NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple Owls Pick over La Salle

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, February 21, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

This is a big game for Temple if the Owls want to remain alive for a possible at large berth to the NCAA Tournament, so look for them to come up huge at home over La Salle.

The home team looks to have most of the motivation Thursday night when the La Salle Explorers (18-6, 7-4 away) pay a visit to those Temple Owls (17-8, 10-3 home) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports is at Pick for this contest with the current odds on Temple set at -109.

There is some lively banter going on at SBR Forum regarding how many Atlantic 10 Conference teams will make the NCAA Tournament, and this game could go a long way toward deciding that.

Personally, we feel that four Atlantic 10 teams are securely in, as the Big Three of Saint Louis, VCU and Butler are virtually locks to make the tournament and we also feel that La Salle has already done enough to get in regardless of this result, as the Explorers are fourth in the conference at 8-3 and have already beaten Butler and VCU with the latter win coming on the road.

That makes this a much larger game for Temple if they are to entertain any thoughts of getting a possible at-large berth as a fifth A-10 member. And it is not as if the Owls are short of talent either, as they beat Syracuse at Madison Square Garden and threw a scare into Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse during non-conference play.

Temple has been maddeningly inconsistent since the start of the Atlantic 10 conference season though as they are just 6-5 in the conference, but if the Owls can win this game tonight, they then have a chance to win every conference game going into what would be a huge season finale vs. VCU here at home, as the other A-10 games after this one are vs. Charlotte, Rhode Island and Fordham.

That could make this a big swing game in the eyes of the committee, but the Temple defense needs to show up to make it happen. The Owls are ranked a fine 42nd in the country in offensive efficiency but they are just 143rd in defensive efficiency.

Now we are not denying that La Salle is the better team on paper here, which is why this game is rated a toss-up with the Explorers being on the road. After all, La Salle ranks just ahead of Temple in offensive efficiency at 41st and it is well ahead in defensive efficiency at 61st.

However, this is the time of year when motivation can win out over talent, and with Temple probably playing with a sense of desperation the rest of the way, look for the Owls to find a way to prevail at home on Thursday.

[gameodds]14/221560/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple Pick (-109)