Lost in the celebration of Temple's renowned zone defense is a grim reality: The Owls have a punchless offense. Rasheed Brokenborough (11.8 points a game) hasn't been the perimeter threat he was expected to be; he and backcourtmate Pepe Sanchez shot just 29.3% from the field and 30.6% from three-point range. If Temple doesn't find a go-to player—and so far it hasn't—all that defense may go to waste.
Defense alone should conjure a win over West Virginia, but Cincinnati, unlike the Owls, is a two-way team.
10 West Virginia
Coach Gale Catlett
Team scoring 80.9 (FG%: 45-9) (3-pointers: 158-478, 33.1%)
Opponents' scoring 69.7 (FG%: 43.6)
Rebound margin +3.0 Team FT% 61.5
Whom not to foul Adrian Pledger (78%), Jarrod West (70%)
Whom to foul Damian Owens (54%). Brent Solheim (60%)
Quality wins St. John's 86-70, Connecticut 80-62
Player to Watch
Owens, a 6'6" senior forward, is arguably the most valuable player in the Big East. Before he injured his back at Syracuse on Feb. 14, the Mountaineers were averaging 84.0 points a game. In the four games during which Owens was hurt (he failed to play in only one of them), West Virginia averaged 69.0 and lost twice. Owens's 17.1-point average leads the Mountaineers, and he's second in rebounding (6.7), but he's even better on defense. He was sixth in the nation in steals (3.0) and was the Big East's defensive player of the year.
West Virginia has five seniors in its starting lineup and a sixth on the bench; together they account for 69% of the Mountaineers' scoring. With all that experience, it's no wonder the Mountaineers commit so few turnovers (13.2 a game, a school-record low). So why do they shoot free throws at such a dismal clip, second worst in the Big East?
First-round foe Temple will challenge those ball handlers; expect the Mountaineers to head for the hills after one game.
MARCH 12, 14/BOISE