By Justin Thomas
The Temple Owls will be taking on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The matchup will take place on March 14th at 8pm at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.
The Owls come into this matchup fresh off of the American Athletic Conference Tournament. They put up a valiant effort however they lost to Wichita State in the second round. In a year that started out with so much promise, the Owls had a rather disappointing end to their season. They missed out on the NCAA tournament for the 2nd straight year and will have now missed the big dance four out of the last 5 year. Some bright spots on the season were the team’s early season wins against Clemson and Auburn as well as the play of Temple’s freshmen. De’Vondre Perry, JP Moorman II and Nate Pierre-Louis all stepped up huge for Temple throughout the season. Pierre-Louis was the one who made the most impact of all the freshmen as he was able to average just under 10 ppg on the season. Guards Shizz Alston Jr and Quinton Rose were the main focal points for the Owls as they were the team’s leading scorers. The Owls will be looking to go deep in the tournament. The Owls last played in the NIT in 2015 where they lost to Miami in the semi-finals.
For the Nittany Lions, they come into the NIT having played some good basketball as of late. Although they didn’t have the most stellar season they did finished the season with a record of 21-17 and they did defeat Ohio State 3 times on the year. Penn State actually made some noise as a potential bubble team as they had good run in the Big 10 Tournament. PSU reached the semi-finals of the conference tournament this year before eventually losing to Purdue. Although the Big 10 was sub-par this year, Penn State is no push over. They are led by sophomore guard and Philadelphia native Tony Carr who was the team’s leading scorer at 19.9 ppg. The last time the Nittany Lions were in the NIT was 2009 where they won the whole tournament, defeating Baylor in the championship game.
One fun fact about the matchup is that this will be the 93rd meeting between Temple and Penn State. Temple leads the series 60-32.