Will City Six teams be shut out of March Madness?

by Marc Narducci | Mar 3, 2023
Will City Six teams be shut out of March Madness?
This year there is a possibility that the City Six schools – the six Philadelphia Division I men’s basketball programs – will be shut out of the NCAA Tournament. Here is a look at the six schools.

Villanova – In the first season with coach Kyle Neptune, the Wildcats have struggled, but at least they are starting to play their best basketball. They began the week 15-14 and 9-9 in the Big East. With two regular season games left at press time, it appears as if Villanova would have to win the Big East title to earn a bid. Last week they won consecutive games against a ranked team, then No. 16 Xavier and No. 19 Creighton. Cam Whitmore, the 6-7 freshman who is considered a potential NBA Lottery pick, has played better after starting the season injured and then taking some time to get adjusted. He is averaging 12.3 points but could be a difference maker. The Wildcats will likely be a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the Big East tourney and have a tough road, but they can’t be discounted in earning a 10th straight NCAA berth.

Penn – The Quakers have already qualified for the Ivy League Tournament. Unlike many leagues, the Ivy only has four teams qualifying for its tournament. Yale, Penn and Princeton have all qualified for the Ivy tourney and are tied for first at 9-4. (Penn ends the regular season on March 4 at Princeton). The Quakers have to win two games in the Ivy Tournament and they will be in the NCAA. Led by 6-3 junior Jordan Dingle (23.4 ppg.) the Quakers can beat anybody, but so could Yale or Princeton. A key for Penn would be to earn the No. 1 seed and not have to worry about facing either Princeton or Yale until the final. Either way, the four-team Ivy tournament is among the best in the country and this one is wide open.

Temple – Few teams have been as up and down as Temple, which began the week 15-14 and 9-7 in the American Athletic Association. Temple owns a win over No. 1 Houston, the only AAC loss for the top-ranked Cougars. It appears the only way Temple can earn a berth in the NCAA tourney is to win the AAC Tournament, a monumental task. Yet Temple at its best can beat any team in the AAC. The Owls are a team nobody will want to face in the AAC tourney but their inconsistency will do them in.

La Salle – The Explorers have exceeded expectations under first-year coach Fran Dunphy, who took Penn and Temple to a combined 17 NCAA tournaments. That said, the Explorers began the weeks 13-16 and 7-9 in the Atlantic 10. La Salle has to win the Atlantic 10 tournament to earn a berth, but the Explorers have been competitive and Dunphy in his first season, has set the right tone for future success.

St. Joseph – The Hawks are almost in the same position as La Salle, starting the week 13-16, 7-10 in the Atlantic 10. St. Joseph’s has improved on last year’s 11-19 record, but like La Salle, there is a long way to go, but this season could be a building block Erik Reynolds, a 6-2 sophomore, is part of why the future could be bright. He averages 18.9 ppg. Like La Salle, St. Joseph would have to win the Atlantic 10 tournament to earn an NCAA berth.

Drexel – Like all the above-mentioned teams, Drexel’s only chance to make it to the NCAA tourney is to win the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Dragons ended the regular season 16-14 and 10-8 in the CAA. Winning the CAA tourney isn’t far-fetched. The Dragons won the CAA tourney in 2021 to earn an NCAA bid. It’s still a longshot to happen this year, but in 2021 in an abbreviated season, the Dragons were 9-7 entering the CAA tournament and then won three straight games to earn the NCAA bid. A repeat isn’t likely, but the Dragons proved it is possible.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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