Owls don't want to take anything for granted

Ed Benkin
March 12, 2019 - 6:33 pm
Mar 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Temple Owls guard Shizz Alston Jr. (10) dribbles past UCF Knights guard Terrell Allen (2) during the first half at Liacouras Center.

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — All of the "Bracketologists" have good news for Temple University these days. 

After an impressive win over 25th ranked University of Central Florida on Saturday, most experts believe the Owls have done enough to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Temple seems to have put together a resume which will earn them an at-large bid.       

Senior Shizz Alston Jr. doesn't want to take any chances. 

"We want the best seed as possible if we're going to be in there," said Alston. "We don't want to leave it up to anybody. The only way you can do that is to win the conference championship. We're going to keep that same attitude that we've got to win and we must win and, hopefully, it works out."    

The Owls finished third in the conference and received a first round bye. Fran Dunphy's squad will play the winner of the Wichita State-East Carolina matchup on Thursday. Many believe the Owls will be one of at least four teams from the conference to get a ticket to the Big Dance. Temple has beaten the likes of UCF and conference-winner Houston, and also took second-place Cincinnati down to the wire.  

Alston knows the Owls can compete with anybody in the conference.

"It means a lot," Alston said. "It's different from the past couple of years when we lost to the top teams. This year, we've got a favorable road to the championship. We're feeling really confident about our chances."

READ: Temple's Dunphy keeping focus on players as Owls near end of season 

The Owls enjoyed some much needed down time after two wins in three days. The victory over UCF was particularly draining as both teams battled at a high level down to the wire. Dunphy is hoping the momentum of those victories will carry over into the tournament.

"We've had a couple of really good games in a row," said Dunphy. "To beat UCF was a terrific win for us. We're grateful for it but know that we have a lot of unfinished business to attend to. We're just anticipating what's going to happen to us on Friday night. It's fun to be in this position. We have to embrace it and enjoy it, then we have to meet the challenge on Friday."

There is also the continued farewell tour for Dunphy.   

The legendary coach was honored before the UCF game on Saturday, and Dunphy is aware his time at Temple is coming to an end. Even if the Owls are surprisingly left out of the NCAA Tournament, the NIT would likely keep Dunphy's coaching career at Temple going for a little longer.

Dunphy continues to downplay his upcoming retirement, but players such as Nate Pierre-Louis are well aware of the significance of their coach's final post-season run.

"We've been focused on trying to get coach Dunphy out of here with a bang," Pierre-Louis said. "He's a legend, so we're trying our best every single day to leave his legacy."