By Tom Dougherty
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Temple is taking Fran Dunphy dancing one last time. The Owls made the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in the past six years and first since 2015-16.
The Owls (23-9, 13-5 AAC) will face Belmont in a First Four play-in game Tuesday. The winner will be the 11-seed and will face 6-seed Maryland on Thursday.
Villanova, which won a record third straight Big East Tournament championship Saturday, is a 6-seed in the South region. The Wildcats will face 11-seed St. Mary’s on Thursday.
Dunphy, 70, is stepping down as Temple head coach after the season, paving way for Aaron McKie to take over. Dunphy isn’t necessarily retiring from coaching but is moving on from the Temple gig.
A mainstay in the Philadelphia college basketball scene for decades, Dunphy will remain a professor at Temple and has previously not ruled out another coaching job.
Under Dunphy, Temple made eight NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 years and had just two losing seasons. The Owls haven’t made it past the third round with Dunphy at the helm.
Despite losing to Wichita State in the American Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinals, Temple’s regular-season résumé was impressive enough to secure its NCAA Tournament bid.
The Owls head into the tournament as underdogs, but they’ll be motivated to send Dunphy off with a few more wins.
Villanova, on the other hand, will attempt to defend its national championship. The Wildcats finished 25-9 overall and 13-5 and in the Big East. They weren’t exactly the powerhouse they’ve been in recent years, but still a dangerous team with a top-tier head coach in Jay Wright.
No other Philadelphia colleges cracked the NCAA Tournament.