By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s Big 5 action on Wednesday night at the Pavilion as 4-3 Villanova hosts 5-0 Temple.
Both teams are in the midst of interesting portions of the schedule. Temple’s week consists on not only this Big 5 match-up, but also a battle with #2 Duke, on Saturday, at the Meadowlands.
“It’s a great week for us in so many different ways,” Owls head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “A very difficult and challenging week – but you couldn’t ask for anymore as a student athlete to have these two great challenges in front of you.”
LISTEN: Matt Leon interviews Fran Dunphy
As for the Wildcats, this tips-off a run of three straight city series games for them (Penn on Saturday, St. Joe’s Tuesday) and head coach Jay Wright says this is a great way to get his team ready for rugged play in the Big East.
“Playing them so close together (also played La Salle 11/25 and lost 77-74 in OT) right now, it’s almost like our own conference, which is the way it is suppose to be. So the Big 5 ‘conference’ games are, right now for us, we can get into a mindset – really important for us. And it does prepare us for the Big East conference.”
The Wildcats started the season with three straight wins, then they lost three straight before getting back in the win column on Saturday at Vanderbilt.
“There have been ups and downs,” Wright says about his team’s season to this point. “But if you have good people, that usually makes you better. And I think all of our experiences in these seven games have made us better. I like the direction this team is going, I like our leadership, and I think we can keep getting better and we’re going to get tested by Temple and that’s why you love to play these early season games.”
LISTEN: Matt Leon interviews Jay Wright
The Owls are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since the 1987-88 season and Dunphy says they will have to play well to beat this Villanova squad.
“We really have to be solid on ‘D’, not give up too many second chance opportunities – which we didn’t do a good job of on Saturday (in win over Wagner) and really take care of the basketball and run good offense and move without the basketball. Because I think they have a nice, solid, defensive team.”
Wright says his backcourt will be a key in this one.
“Our guards have got to take care of the basketball. Temple’s not a real pressing team, but they’re a very aggressive, physical, defensive team – especially on the perimeter. Last time we had 17 turnovers against them, at Temple, and that really cost us. And we have turned the ball over this year. We just really have to take care of the basketball and value each possession.”
Last season, Temple beat the Wildcats 78-67, at the Liacouras Center.
The Owls and the Wildcats will tip-off at 9:00pm on Wednesday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.