Up until this weekend, did you think the Atlantic 10 race was shaping up rather nicely as a cut-and-dried showdown between the league's two newest members, Virginia Commonwealth and Butler? Me too. (Though I'm keeping an eye on Saint Louis, as well.) Then Temple beat No. 3 Syracuse 83-79 in Madison Square Garden. Any team that can record a win against Jim Boeheim's group at the Garden is a force to be reckoned with, surely.
If Fran Dunphy's team turns out to be as good as it looked against the Orange (as opposed to what we saw from it three days earlier, when it lost to Canisius by 10 at home), the Rams and the Bulldogs will have some competition at the top of the A-10. But before we get that far, I'm here to give the rest of the league an advance scouting report on the Owls. Don't foul them.
John Wooden once said, "Basketball is not a complicated game, but we coaches complicate it." In that spirit, not fouling Temple is a no-brainer. The Owls rank a so-so No. 141 in the nation in 2-point accuracy and an abysmal No. 271 from beyond the arc. But Dunphy's men are shooting 73 percent at the line, good for No. 83 nationally. And against Syracuse, Temple was 29-of-36 at the line (81 percent). The Owls won this game at the free throw line.