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BETTER KNOW AN NCAA TOURNAMENT OPPONENT: TEMPLE OWLS

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Iowa prepares for a #BattleOfTheBirds with Temple in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Temple Owls

Conference: American Athletic Conference
Record: 21-11 (14-4 AAC)
KenPom: 86
RPI: 60
Sagarin: 85

Temple won the regular season conference title in the American Athletic Conference with a 14-4 record and that success in January and February is certainly what carried them to an NCAA Tournament bid.  Temple went just 6-6 in non-conference play with no wins of note; their best win in non-league play was, uh, Minnesota.  No, really.  They played some good teams in their non-conference slate (North Carolina, Utah, Butler, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Saint Joseph's), but beat none of them.

NOTE: Matt will be along with a more detailed analysis of the Owls later this week in Pre-Game Franalysis, but for now here's a brief primer on the Owls.

BEST WINS

12/29/15: Temple 77, Cincinnati 70
1/5/16: Temple 55, UConn 53
1/16/16: Temple 67, Cincinnati 65 (2OT)
1/24/16: Temple 89, SMU 80
2/11/16: Temple 63, UConn 58

Again, all of Temple's good wins came in American Athletic Conference action, highlighted by their win over SMU at home and home-and-away sweeps of Cincinnati and UConn in league play.  (They did lose to UConn in the AAC tournament.)

WORST LOSSES

1/13/16: Memphis 67, Temple 65
1/27/16: East Carolina 64, Temple 61
2/23/16: Tulsa 74, Temple 55

For the most part, Temple avoided bad losses this year, with East Carolina (KenPom 211) being the key exception there.  Memphis (RPI 139, KenPom 71) was not a good loss, either. But for the most part Temple beat the teams they should have beaten this year.

KEY PLAYERS

SG/SG Quenton DeCosey is the first name to know -- he uses 25.3% of Temple's possessions (most on the team) and is averaging a team high 15.6 ppg, albeit on just 40% FG shooting.  DeCosey also averages 6.0 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game, second on the team in both categories.

F/C Jaylen Bond is Temple's main post presence, averaging 10.2 ppg and a team-high 8.3 rpg. SF/PF Obi Enechionyia is the other key member of the Owls' front court, averaging 11.2 ppg and 3.7 rpg. PG Josh Brown is the man who runs the Owl offense and while he doesn't score a lot (8.1 ppg), he's active on the glass (4.7 rpg) and a skilled distributor (4.9 assists per game). Devin Coleman is Brown's main back court partner (9.3 ppg) and he's Temple's leading long range shooter (40% shooting on a team-high 160 attempts).

TEAM NOTES

Temple is a pretty experienced team -- they start three seniors and two juniors (although Enechionyia, a sophomore, plays a lot) and rank 65th in the nation in Experience, per KenPom, although the Owls haven't been in the NCAA Tournament since 2013.

The Owls play at a very, uh, methodical pace 66.9 possession per game, 275th in the nation, so it seems safe to assume that they'll try to slow things down a bit against Iowa. Temple isn't a very good shooting team -- they have an effective FG% of 46.9 (293rd in the country) -- and especially struggle on 2-point shots (44.5%, 324th in the nation). They also don't get to the free throw line very often (just 27.1% of their possessions, 346th in the country), although they're not a particularly good free throw shooting team (68.4%, 231st in the nation), either.  One thing Temple is good at on offense?  Not giving the ball away -- they turn the ball over on just 13.7% of their possessions (2nd best in the nation) and concede steals on 6.4% of their possessions (9th best in the nation).  That's not great news for an Iowa team that relies on forcing turnovers to get easy transition buckets on offense.

Temple is much better on the defensive side of the ball; they rank 52nd in the nation in defensive efficiency (97.5) and are holding teams to below average shooting on 2-pointers (46.5%, 79th in the nation) and 3-pointers (31.4%, 31st in the nation).  They don't force a lot of turnovers (they do so on just 16.5% of opponent possessions, 271st in the nation) but they do a good job of preventing teams from getting good looks.  That's somewhat concerning news, given the state of the Iowa offense over the last month (especially Iowa's offense in half-court sets).

OVERALL

Temple is the lowest-rated #10 seed in the KenPom ratings -- by far.  They're just 86th, while the other #10s are Gonzaga (28), VCU (35), and Syracuse (41). In that regard, Iowa probably caught a break in terms of who they drew for their first game.  But Temple is very good at some things and they could certainly gum things up against Iowa and make things very difficult on the Hawkeyes.  And of course Iowa is also fresh off a loss to Illinois (KenPom 126) and has lost to Penn State (KenPom 138) and struggled with Minnesota (KenPom 217) within the last month, so Iowa's more than capable of losing to the Owls if they don't raise their level of play considerably.  A year ago, Iowa rebounded from a miserable Big Ten Tournament showing with one of their finest performances of the McCaffery Era at Iowa, blasting Davidson into tiny little bits in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Let's hope Iowa rekindles a little of that same mojo this Friday.