Temple Men's Basketball: Final 6 Games Are Do or Die

Manny GeraldoCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 22:  Khalif Wyatt #1 of the Temple Owls pumps his fist in the final moments of the game against Syracuse Orange during the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2012 in New York City. Temple Owls defeated the Syracuse Orange 83-79. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With six games remaining in the regular season of play, Temple (17-8) must play with a "do-or-die" mentality. Three bad losses in the past month to St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's and Duquesne have jeopardized the Owls' chances at securing an NCAA tournament bid. 

Since the February 2 one-point loss to Saint Joseph's, the Owls have won three of four games. However, the one-point loss to Duquesne might be the worst loss of the season and could not have come at worse time. Duquesne is 8-17 overall and had yet to win an A-10 conference game before stealing a victory on the Owls' home court. 

Temple likely needs to win four of the six remaining games to be a "bubble" team that makes the NCAA tournament. Winning four of the six will be no easy feat, but at least four of the games (La Salle, Detroit, Rhode Island and Virginia Commonwealth) are home games.

A win over ranked VCU would be huge for the Owls' resume and, along with 20 wins, would likely be enough to get them in the tournament. The Owls cannot afford losses at either Rhode Island or Fordham—two teams far below .500. 

The Owls will continue to lean heavily on senior guard Khalif Wyatt who is having a remarkable season and should be a lock for A-10 Player of the Year. Wyatt has averaged 26 PPG over the last 10 games and is averaging 19.8 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 4.0 APG for the season. Wyatt has nabbed consecutive Big Five player-of-the-week honors

Graduate Jake O'Brien has been a nice spark off the bench and has averaged 12.5 points over the last four games. Scoring has been hard to come by for the Owls, so O'Brien needs to continue to provide offensive help from the bench. Coach Fran Dunphy should continue to increase O'Brien's minutes as he's played some of his best games when he's played for more than twenty minutes.

Temple has played in the NCAA tournament the past five consecutive seasons but that run may come to an end if the Owls do not better their play down the stretch. For Coach Dunphy and the Owls, it's do-or-die time.