Scary to think about, almost blasphemous, but I have to ask the question: was losing to No. 19 Temple actually a good thing for the Rhode Island Rams?
Coming into another home game vs. Duquesne tonight, Rhode Island stands at 14-2.
With those last two wins coming at the hands of very weak opponents, Fordham and St. Joe's, URI was able to do something with those teams they haven't done in a while in A-10 play.
With the exception of last year's 31-point blow out of Fordham, you have to go back to 2006 to find beatings dished out by Rhode Island this bad.
Never mind back-to-back.
The reality is, back to back games of 18 point or better throttlings are not commonplace during A-10 play for URI.
This year, Fordham kept with URI until the real Rams showed up during a 32-4 run in the second half that let the lead balloon to 28 amidst a barrage of Sportscenter-Top-10-Worthy Dunks.
The St. Joes game was over when tip off came, URI jumped out to a 7-0 lead, 58-34 by the half, and kept it up from there.
Back to the question at hand, was losing to No. 19 Temple at home really a bad thing?
Had URI won that game, there was a good chance they could have been ranked the following Monday with all the hype surrounding their 12-1 record and victories over PC, BC and Oklahoma State.
From what we've seen in the past, the weight of a number in front of this team, this early into conference play, can be a bad thing.
In 07-08, ranked as high as No. 20, the high flying Rams went into No. 22 Dayton on an eight-game win streak and lost.
While they were able to squeak out a two-point win over Duquesne after that, Rhody stumbled to finish 7-9 in conference play.
Last season, URI went down the final stretch riding a six-game winning streak at the right time, including a thriller over previously ranked Dayton, gaining a lot of national attention from bracketologists.
But it seemed like Rhody thought they had an NCAA bid all sewn up when they dropped a heart-breaker at home to a UMass team they had just beat a week earlier.
That was followed by another dream-killing loss to Duquesne in the A-10 tourney, a team they had also beat on the road the week before.
Had URI beat Temple and possibly succumb to the pressure of being a top-25 team, a let down loss to St. Joe's or Fordham could have been a very large stumbling block on the road to an NCAA at-large bid.
A win against Temple and a loss to either St. Joe's or Fordham would look far worse than two blow out wins over weaker opponents and a single-digit, overtime loss to a ranked team.
Although it was at home, losing to a ranked team is never a bad loss. With their two losses to teams that are almost shoe-ins to the big dance this year, URI's tournament resume is not all that bad.
Ranked, marquee wins look nice, but a bad loss can hurt far worse than a good win can help.
Bad losses negate big wins.
Bad losses after big wins make teams look lucky, spotty, and inconsistent.
Both are a downer for anyone's tournament hopes.
The Rhode Island games previous to Temple were nearly all nail-biters. Five out of the last six games didn't see a win greater than five points and had a buzzer beater at Drexel. Had URI lost one of those games to Fairfield, Drexel, Akron, or Northeastern, this Temple loss would have been crushing.
Against Temple, Rhody played their worst game of the season. At least it happened against a team they could stomach losing to.
Reading the body language and hearing the players talk after the Temple loss, no one looked or sounded broken.
No one was concerned with how bad they felt about losing, they just kept playing their game. They knew they were a better team than the performance they gave on the court and just moved on.
These last two games have proved that.
Honestly, the Temple game feels like it was months ago.
How ironic would it be, to be there in March looking back at this season saying it was a big loss that pulled this team together and set the stage for an NCAA tournament run?
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