Column: Temple was 2.9 ticks away from the NIT

Do yourself a favor and look at the South Region. There’s this No. 11 seed called Temple. It’s the same Temple team that was 2.9 seconds away from not being included in the South Region, or any region for that matter.

You see, it’s clear now that the Owls needed to win the A-10 tourney, which they did, in order to advance to the field of 64. Whoops, I mean the field of 65. I pick Winthrop over Northwestern State in the pre-tournament game Tuesday night. I mean it’s really a toss up, but they’ve got “Win” in their name, so I’ll go with them.

Had Patrick Ngongba not “fouled” Lynn Greer, that No. 11 seed very well could have gone to either GW or Massachusetts. The winner would have most likely taken the spot and headed to New Orleans for a post-Mardi Gras celebration. It kind of gives you the chills how close GW really was to shocking the nation and stealing an automatic berth. So, if Penders and the gang had taken Temple’s spot, let’s see who they would have played. Hmmm, let’s check here.it’s Texas.

Now, fortunately, GW and Penders have no real history with Texas so it probably wouldn’t have been a real intriguing match-up.

Oh, wait. Didn’t Penders used to coach somewhere around there? Yep, for 10 years right there at the University of.

When you look at how the last few days have panned out, it’s actually a real shame for GW. For a team that really didn’t have a good season, they played their hearts out and deserved to at least beat Temple. But, for a team whose problems ultimately came down to free throws and not being able to finish games, Friday night was a very fitting way to bow out.

Before I quickly give my NCAA predictions, I just wanted to say that the Stanford women are in trouble. Joe McKeown doesn’t lose in the first round, and he’s got even more magic going for him when he faces the Cardinal in Norman, Okla. Saturday night. You see, McKeown was an assistant coach at Oklahoma for three seasons in the mid-1980s. That’s where he met his wife Laura.

Love and basketball are eternal, aren’t they?

Now back to the road to the Final Four. I’m going with Villanova. Just kidding. I used to pick them every year in the Kerry Kittles era, but they never got past the second round. They didn’t even make it this year. Just to make a quick point, I’m not real good at these tournament pools, so it’s probably not a safe bet to agree with me.

With that said, I’m going with Arizona over Duke for the title. I think. I’m going to predict that the Wildcats go through Eastern Illinois, Butler, Xavier and then Syracuse in order to get to the Final Four. Butler has waited a year for redemption since Florida dropped them at the buzzer in last year’s opening round. As for Xavier, it would probably give GW fans a bittersweet feeling given our match-up Thursday. And given the season we’ve endured, it’s probably our luck. But, as I’ve mentioned, I’m usually wrong so Notre Dame or Ole Miss could just as easily be there. And Syracuse is a tourney team, so I expect them to dethrone Illinois.

I’m going to pick Arizona to beat North Carolina in the Final Four game. UNC was an eight seed last year and made it to the Final Four. This isn’t the Princeton team that upset UCLA in the first round. I do think Temple will beat Texas, by the way, and then beat Florida. Besides, exactly 10 years ago the Owls lost to UNC in the Elite Eight game. Doesn’t everything fit so well?

Duke will beat Stanford in the other Final Four game. I think. I’d love to say Maryland will come out of the West for all you local fans, but let’s be real.

The one thing I can say with certainty is that GW won’t win the national championship, and that’s a shame because the team really deserved at least a shot with its recent play. The truth, though, is that GW had a lot of shots in a lot of games this season and most of those shots just didn’t fall when they needed to, so that’s just how it goes.

But, it will be tough to watch Temple battle Texas in the first round. I have this feeling Temple will make some noise in the tourney. They usually do. And only those who witnessed Friday night’s heartbreaker in Philly truly know how close Temple was from the National Invitation Tournament. GW fans also know, as I’m quite sure Penders knows now, how close Texas really was.

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