PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) – Three of Philadelphia’s Big Five teams have been selected to play in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Villanova Wildcats, Temple Owls and La Salle Explorers will all be “going dancing” this week.
Villanova (20-13) is a No. 9 seed in the South Region and will meet No. 8 seed University of North Carolina Friday in Kansas City, Missori.
The Wildcats return to the tournament after missing postseason play last year. They split their first eight games this season, but moved into tournament contention in January with back-to-back victories over Louisville and Syracuse. Louisville was ranked fifth and Syracuse third at the time of those games.
“I thought we could be a good team,” coach Jay Wright said. “But I didn’t know how long it would take or where we would be.”
Temple (23-9) is a No. 9 seed in the East Region. They will meet N0. 8 seed N.C. State Friday in Dayton, Ohio.
The Owls, who have had an up-and-down season in the Atlantic 10, will play this game in an arena that’s familiar to them, since the Dayton Flyers are members of the same conference. Temple is making its sixth straight trip to the tournament.
“Guys have been waiting for this moment. Mood is up now,” the Owl’s Khalif Wyatt said. “We have a new season, a new opportunity, so we’re going to try to take advantage of it.”
La Salle (21-9) will participate in a play-in game against Boise State Wednesday night in Dayton. The winner will be the No. 13 seed in the West Region and will face No. 4 Kansas State on Friday.
The Explorers were rewarded with a spot in the 68-team field because of the strength of regular-season wins over fellow NCAA qualifiers Villanova and Butler. They’ll be in the tournament for the first time since 1992.
“We think we deserve to be there and you can’t win unless you’re there,” coach John Giannini said Sunday night. “We’re in no different a situation than VCU was the year they went to the Final Four. It’s a big step for our program.”
Louisville is the No. 1 overall seed. The other No. 1’s are Kansas, Indiana and Gonzaga.
The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is hosting second- and third-round games on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
Let the madness begin!
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