While most Big East teams are opening up conference play this week, the Villanova Wildcats have been preparing for their final Big 5 game of the year, which takes place tomorrow night on the Main Line against the Temple Owls. In a scheduling oddity, this is Temple's first Big 5 game, while Villanova looks to wrap up the city crown with a perfect 4-0 record. A few streaks are on the line heading into this clash; Temple has won 6 straight games, Villanova has won 5 in a row overall, and Villanova has reeled off 42 consecutive wins at the Pavilion.
Preview of the game after the jump...
Time: 7 PM ET
Location: The Pavilion in Villanova, PA
TV: ESPN2 with Scott Graham and Bill Raftery calling the action
Radio: WPHT (1210 AM)
About the Owls
Temple boasts a starting lineup of 5 upperclassmen, including 4 juniors. The lone senior, forward Lavoy Allen, is one of the better players in the country, as he averages 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Complimenting Allen are Ramone Moore and Juan Fernandez, two guards who can light it up at any time. Moore puts up nearly 15 points a game, and Villanova is all too familiar with Fernandez, as he dropped 33 last season against the Cats in a 75-65 Temple win at the Liacouras Center. The A-10 favorite Owls have 2 close losses on their resume, one to California and one to Texas A & M, both of which took place at the Old Spice Classic back in November. Temple certainly made up for those slip-ups with wins against Maryland and Big East power Georgetown, which helped to propel them back into the Top 25 this week. Another top 10 win for Temple would certainly look impressive heading into 2011.
What to Expect
While the Big 5 may not be a big deal to some, it is huge for Philadelphia and these two schools, not only for bragging rights and record, but also in recruiting. Remember: it was Temple who embarrassed the Cats last year and stole the Big 5 title away. Don't think Jay Wright hasn't been preaching this to his players and coaches the last 8 days. Simply put, this is a huge game for Villanova. The nonconference schedule is extremely soft, so this presents one of the few opportunities for the Cats to notch a nice win against a team outside of their conference. I would expect the crowd to be giddy from the opening tip, regardless of winter break, which should fire up the home team early on. Don't be fooled by any big leads though in the first half, because these Big 5 showdowns always have a way of coming down to the wire. In the end, win or lose, this game will definitely be a measuring stick for Villanova, especially with Big East play starting on Sunday.
-Temple set for rivalry game with Villanova
-Villanova, Temple video clips from CSN Philly (this link takes you to the video homepage for CSN Philly; click on the NCAA tab on the left and there a few video clips from 12/28 and 12/29, including interviews with Jay Wright, Corey Fisher, Fran Dunphy, and Ramone Moore)