The first Big Ten team to take the court in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament will be the Penn State Nittany Lions, who will be playing today against the Temple Owls in West Regional action in Tuscon, Arizona.
These two schools aren't very far apart, geographically, and as a matter of fact scrimmaged against one another in October. They also played against each other in Philadelphia in December, with the Owls gutting out an ugly 45-42 victory over the Nittany Lions.
Over at SB Nation's Penn State blog, Black Shoe Diaries, they think their team has a chance to pull off the mild upset and continue on to a potential match-up with the San Diego State Aztecs.
Temple's 14-2 record in a league as respected as the A-10 is nothing to sneeze at, but Penn State hasn't lost to a team outside the Top 10 since Feb. 10 at Michigan State. The Lions have earned the right to be here, too, and they need to play with the confidence they have in the last month if they hope to keep their season going for another couple of days. Temple is good and it has had Penn State's number over the last couple of years, but reacting to that instead of the momentum built up at the Big Ten Tournament is a bad idea. The Lions are good in their own right and, as they've shown, a little swagger and fight makes them dangerous enough to beat anyone. Why not Temple?
Unfortunately, SB Nation doesn't have a blog for Temple, but we found one from outside the network called The T Stands Alone to see what they think about their chances this afternoon.
After last year's debacle I convinced myself that I would never pick Temple to win until they actually did so. I changed my tune when I saw the draw this year as Penn State is a vulnerable squad. I don't think that this game is going to be a laugher by any means but I do believe that the Owls have more than enough quality to advanced to the round of 32 on Saturday. Temple 61, Penn State 53
Tip-off for this one will take place at 1:10 PM Central time on TNT, which is Channel 245 on your DirecTV box, and. . .well, some other channel if you don't have DirecTV.