NCAA Basketball Picks: Temple Will Cover At Tulane & Win AAC Title

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 5, 2016 10:19 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 5, 2016 10:19 PM UTC

Sunday's American Athletic Conference finale means everything to Temple and nothing to Tulane as the Owls will clinch the regular season title, either shared or outright, with a win. Temple is a 6-point favorite on BetOnline's NCAA Basketball odds.

Owls Weren't Supposed To Be This Good
This is my second preview for Temple this week. I looked at the Owls'  home finale against Memphis on  Thursday when they were 5-point favorites. I said to give the points and that worked out nicely as Temple won 72-62. Jaylen Bond had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He had averaged just 22.2 minutes over the previous four games largely due to foul trouble; he played 38 vs. Memphis and didn't commit a single foul.

Temple season leading scorer Quenton DeCosey, who was honored along with the other seniors before Thursday's game, battled through foul trouble and finished with 13 points. Josh Brown had 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Brown has 44 assists and only five turnovers in the past eight games. TU had five players score in double figures for the second time this season (Devin Coleman added 12 and Obi Enechionyia 10 points). A 12-4 run  midway through the first half put Temple up 26-14 and really in control the rest of the way -- Memphis would get as close as three points with 4:33 left in the game.

The Owls are tied for first place in the AAC with SMU, but Temple is assured of the top seed in next week's AAC Tournament in Orlando -- playing the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game -- because the Mustangs are ineligible for postseason play. And there are no other teams within two games of Temple and SMU in the standings. It's quite possible the Mustangs lose on Sunday as they visit a good Cincinnati team that needs a win to help its NCAA Tournament bubble status, so Temple could win the regular-season title outright. The SMU-Cincinnati game should end just as this one is starting.

The Owls were picked to finish sixth in the ACC in the summer. I will say this: Temple still isn't a lock NCAA Tournament team, generally projected as a No. 12 seed in the Big Dance. A loss  here would put the Owls right back on the bubble. Temple is 15-12 against the spread on NCAA Basketball odds this season and 5-6 ATS on the road.


Not Much Good To Say About Green Wave
Tulane (10-20, 3-14) is just not a good program and is last in the conference. The Green Wave haven't  made the NCAA Tournament since 1995 and have finished with a winning record once this decade. The program is 90-101 under sixth-year coach Ed Conroy and he might not be back next season. The school does have a new athletic director and that often leads to change.

"There isn't any question it's not meeting anyone's expectations," AD Troy Dannen said last month to the local media about the state of the basketball program. "If it's meeting someone's expectations, then that person needs expectations that are significantly higher, because mine are. For me, if we're not in the top half of the league, then it bears a careful evaluation of why not, and what it's going to take to get there. That's where I'm at with basketball right now."

The Green Wave lost their fourth straight game  Wednesday, 73-65 at Central Florida. Tulane wouldn't trail until late in the first half, which is a victory in itself. It trailed by as many as 17 after intermission. Malik Morgan led the Green Wave with 17 points, while Louis Dabney had 14. Tulane forced 20 UCF turnovers and scored 29 points off them. But the Green Wave shot just 37.5 percent from the field and missed 10 of 20 free throws. It's not a good offensive team, ranking 310th in the nation in scoring at 66.4 points per game.

Tulane has one home conference win this season: 94-87 in overtime against Memphis on Feb. 13. That ended a 12-game conference home losing streak, but it has lost two home conference games since. This will be Senior Day, which means leading scorer Dabney (14.5 ppg) and a few others will be honored before the game. The Green Wave are 9-14-1 ATS on NCAA Basketball picks and 5-7 ATS at home.


Last Season
This is the only scheduled matchup of the season. Tulane and SMU are the only AAC teams that Temple will play once in the regular season. The Owls are 4-2 all-time in the series and won both last year: 64-56 in New Orleans and 55-37 in Philadelphia.

If this was the middle of the season, it might be a trap game for Temple. But not with the AAC title on the line. Give the points. Temple is 7-1 ATS in its past eight road games vs. teams with a losing record. Tulane is 1-8-1 ATS in its past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. 

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Temple -6
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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