Big 5 Preview

I love the Big 5. Philadelphia is the only major metropolitan area with 5 Division I basketball teams, 6, if you count Drexel.These teams play each other every year in a round robin style schedule for a city title.

There is no official Big 5. People from other parts of the country may never have heard of the Big 5. That does not matter to the city or fans of the teams.The Big 5 is for bragging rights; for students, for alumni and for fans.

Although I love the Big 5, I feel a little cheated. I attended Villanova in the early 1990's. A period I refer to as the Dark Ages if Villanova Basketball. My brother was a student when we won the 1985 NCAA Championship. Me? I was a student for one NCAA tournament appearance in 1991. At that time, Villanova, or should I say Rollie Massimino, decided it was in the school's best interest to only play two Big 5 opponents each year.

Luckily, the format changed back to a full round robin schedule in1999. I just wish there were more games played at The Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania. It would also be great to bring back the tradition of the home team's first field goal each Big 5 game.

Here is a look at the Big 5 teams and tournament prediction for the season:

LaSalle Explorers: 2012-2013 record 24-10 (11-5 Atlantic 10)

The Explorers are looking to build on last year's NCAA tournament run into the Sweet Sixteen, LaSalle had a great March, coming out of the tournament's First Four and playing into the second weekend. Coach Dr. John Giannini will look to continue that success. LaSalle will miss the leadership and scoring ability of Ramon Galloway.

However, the Explorers return 6 players who averaged more that 20 minutes per game last season. Tyreek Duren, Sam Mills and DJ Peterson will do most of the ball handling and scoring as LaSalle will again use a guard heavy lineup.

Another successful season should be on tap for LaSalle, but they will have a target on their back in conference play. The A-10 schedule will not be easy and I feel the NCAA selection Committee will select 4 conference teams and LaSalle will be one.

Projected finish: NCAA Tournament

Pennsylvania Quakers: 2012-2013 record 9-22 (6-8 Ivy League)

Coach Jerome Allen will look to turn around last year's sub .500 season. The Quakers will look to make the 2012-2013 season only a memory as all 5 starters return from last year' s squad. The Penn offense will run through Miles Jackson-Cartwright and Tony Hicks.

Penn will once again have their battles in the Ivy League including Harvard, Yale and the ever difficult Princeton Tigers. Non conference games against Big 5 teams will be a good challenge for the Quakers. Hicks will be one of the top players in the conference and if he is able to carry the team, he could lead Penn to a conference title. However, Harvard may be too strong. A Top 3 finish is possible for the Quakers, but only one NCAA bid will go to the league champion.

Projected Finish- NIT Tournament

St. Joseph's Hawks: 2012-2013 record 18-14 (8-8 Atlantic 10)

St. Joseph's was everyone's darling to win the Atlantic 10 last year, but stumbled to an 8-8 conference record. Coach Phil Martelli will need to replace the scoring of Carl Jones and the shot blocking ability of CJ Aiken. Look for Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic to be a strong front court presence for the Hawks.

Some tough non conference games outside of the Big 5 include Creighton and LSU in the Old Spice Classic which has a loaded field including Butler, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Purdue.

I look for another average year in the A-10 for the Hawks. A.500 conference record again looks likely and a difficult out of conference schedule may have the Hawks on the bubble come February, but I see a final record much like 2012-2013.

Projected Finish- NIT Tournament

Temple Owls: 2012-2013 record 24-10 (11-5 Atlantic 10) now in the American Athletic Conference

Temple had another very good season last year, both in and out of conference play, and secured an NCAA at large bid. Although I think Fran Dunphy is the best coach in the Big 5, he and the Owls may be in for a down year.

Graduation tok a toll on Temple. Khalid Wyatt led the team in points, assists and steals. Scottie Randall and front court players Jake O'Brien and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson will also be missed. Junior forward Anthony Leee and junior guard Will Cummings will need to increase their scoring production and lead the Owls.

Temple's starting 5 should be decent, but the Owls will be thin on the bench. An injury to one of the starters could turn the season badly for Temple. Playing in the new AAC with Louisville. Memphis and Cincinnati will not help.

Projected Finish- NIT Tournament

Villanova Wildcats: 2012-2013 record 20-14 (10-8 Big East)

Villanova is coming off a successful season under Jay Wright. The Wildcats eclipsed their projection for last season with 20 wins and secured an NCAA at large bid with a young team.

With the departure of Mouphtaou Tarou and Maurice Sutton, the front court will lean on the big shoulders of JayVaughn Pinkston. The 6-7 junior averaged 13.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last year. Villanova is looking for a bigger contribution from forward/center Daniel Ochefu.

As usual, Jay Wright's team is back court heavy. Ryan Arcidiacono returns after a successful rookie campaign at the point. Arcidiacono will be joined by returners James Bell and Darrun Hilliard. Look for a nice NCAA tournament run from the Cats, where experienced guard play is the key to victory.

Projected Finish- NCAA Tournament

Could a Big 5 team make a run into the Sweet Sixteen? Of course it's possible. LaSalle and Villanova probably have the best chances of advancing deep into the tournament. Penn could claim the Ivy League and be a tough matchup for any team in the country on the first weekend of March Madness. Temple and St. Joseph's could be pleasant surprises.

Big 5 play begins on November 9th with Temple vs Penn at the Palestra. ESPN's College Gameday will broadcast from the Palestra on January 18 before the LaSalle vs Temple game.

Whatever the season brings, there will be exciting games to watch. Whenever any of these teams play each other, expect a battle. A Big 5 battle.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of VU Hoops.

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