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Atlantic 10 Tournament Final

The Temple Owls can win their third straight Atlantic 10 Tournament title today, if they can squash the Richmond Spiders in the final. The Owls head into today’s tournament final riding a nine-game winning streak. Rather appropriately, the last time they lost (on February 6) was to Richmond. Will the Owls get some payback today, or can the Spiders make it two-for-two against the current No. 17 ranked team in the nation? Temple was matched up with Rhode Island yesterday in the tournament semifinals and easily got past the Rams 57-44 as a 3.5-point favorite at Bovada. Ryan Brooks led Temple with 16 points, and Juan Fernandez chipped in with 14 points and seven assists, but it was the Owls’ defense that made this one no contest.

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Temple’s smothering defense held Rhode Island to only 17 points in the opening half, and overall the Rams shot only 27% in the loss. Richmond was the underdog in their semifinal match with Xavier. The Spiders went to overtime with the Musketeers and prevailed 89-85 as a 3-point underdog. Kevin Anderson poured in a game-high 27 points and David Gonzalez netted 26 points in the upset. Anderson was the key in Richmond’s win over Temple back in February. He scored a game-high 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting and the Spiders won 71-54 as a 2-point home favorite. Lavoy Allen and Ramone Moore each scored 17 points for Temple and Allen also had 19 rebounds. The Owls were shorthanded in the loss with Fernandez sidelined by a concussion. It also didn’t help that leading scorer Brooks had a horrible game, with only two points on 1-of-8 shooting.

Temple has been the class of the Atlantic 10 for a number of years and no matter what happens Sunday afternoon they’re headed to the Big Dance. Richmond is also considered an NCAA tourney lock, but could give their seeding a slight boost with a win today. Temple won the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2008 and 2009 and overall they’ve won the tourney eight times. However, they’ve also lost the tourney final seven times, giving them a SU record on 8-7 in the final. For Richmond this is new territory. The Spiders have never appeared in the Atlantic 10 final before and they’re a 3.5-point underdog today.