Note: Josh Safran, the creator of Corona Madness, got very bored while in quarantine and wanted to see a college basketball season played to completion. Thus, he used the Temple Men’s Basketball roster to play a hybrid version of their schedule in the NCAA10 video game. The team competes in the A-10 and isn’t an exact replica, but it’s here to serve your basketball boredom for now.
Written by: Josh Safran
I miss sports an embarrassing amount. You don’t realize how much you REALLY need something until it’s taken away from you completely. Take basketball for example, or in this case college basketball. There’s an argument to be made that there was a college basketball season played this year, but a season that didn’t finish with conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament is hardly a season at all.
What makes college basketball so special is the promise of chaos. Each year whether it be in a Power 5 conference or the SWAC, some team with either a losing record or something close to it limps into their conference’s tournament, strings 4 or 5 wins together, and comes out of it a champion with a bid to the big dance.
For Temple faithful, you don’t have to search too deep in your memory banks to be reminded of the dangers of conference tournaments. The 2016 Temple Owls finished the season with a strangle hold of the first-place spot in the AAC, one of their best seasons in recent memory. Led by senior Quenton DeCosey and head coach Fran Dunphy, the AAC tournament was Temple’s to lose as they trekked down to the Amway Center.
In Temple’s first game of the tournament they made quick work of an uninspired USF team, earning them a matchup with Kevin Ollie’s Connecticut Huskies in the tournament’s semifinal round.
This was a decent UConn team, but nothing special, as Temple had beat them twice earlier that season, a 55-53 win in Hartford and a 63-58 win on Broad St. This time around, the third time was the charm for Ollie’s bunch, as Connecticut won the battle of bubble teams 77-62, ending Temple’s run for their first AAC conference championship. The crazy thing is, Connecticut had absolutely no business playing Temple in the conference semifinal in the first place.
On Friday at noon the Temple Owls rolled out of bed and dominated USF, ending the Bulls season at an abysmal 8-25 overall record with no chance of making the NCAA tournament. A couple hours later, UConn (21-10) took on Cincinnati (22-9) on the same court, as Temple watched to see who they’d take on the next day.
With 2:30 left in the game UConn was in the driver’s seat up 62-55 before allowing a layup, a turnover on the ensuing possession leading to a transition 3, and an easy Cincinnati basket to tie the game. With 8 seconds left tied at 62 apiece, Cincinnati had the game in the palm of their hand. In fact they even got two shots up on their final possession. A UConn block and an airball meant it was overtime.
The first OT wasn’t a strong showing by either side ending 67-67. In the second overtime, UConn went down two with 15 seconds left, only to be bailed out by guard Jalen Adams cutting into the lane making an athletic layup to send the game to a third OT. That’s where things really got crazy.
In the first two overtimes UConn and Cincinnati combined for just 26 points. In the third overtime alone, they combined for 26 points. It seemed like neither team could miss, fueled by the fear of going home and not knowing if they were going to hear their name called on selection Sunday.
With 27.7 left on the clock, UConn sunk two free throws, tying the game at 85. Now it was clear there were two possibilities. Either Cincinnati holds for the last shot and advances to the semifinals, or we’re going to a fourth OT period. With six seconds left Cincinnati fires up a three, misses, gets the offensive rebound, passes the ball out to junior guard Kevin Johnson who steps in and nails a three with less than a second left on the clock.
UConn has no timeouts left and Mick Cronin’s squad knew it. The Cincinnati bench is being held back by coaches as they celebrate and the cheerleaders are jumping around in glee. Then, Jalen Adams once again gets the ball in a big situation. The inbounds pass goes to him, he takes two steps, heaves the basketball about 65 feet down the court and just like that… 88-88, quadruple overtime.
The Huskies never looked back and neither did the Bearcats. UConn went on to outscore Cincy by seven in the fourth and final OT winning 104-97. Their reward? More basketball, of course. They would beat Temple not even 24 hours later by 15 points and capping their run off with a 14 point AAC title game victory against Memphis, crowning them 2016 AAC conference champions.
Which brings us to the present day, where a pandemic swept the world and cancelled every sporting event known to man on the day the AAC tournament was slated to begin. While most major sports have the luxury of time and hope for a return, there’s one sport we are sure we will never get closure in 2020, and that’s college basketball.
A season that ended leaving not UNC, not Duke, not Kentucky on top, but Dayton being the most popular pick to win it all. Aside from the national title being left up to what-if, the AAC can’t even crown a winner, ending in a 3-way tie, with a tournament cancelled the day it was set to begin. Now just over two months removed from the would-be crowning of an AAC champ and Selection Sunday, I sit with a sour taste in my mouth and a boredom of ESPN Classics.
While nothing can bring back this 2020 season (trust me I’ve tried already), for the sake of my own sanity if not for anyone else’s, I have put the 2019-2020 Temple basketball team in a wormhole which chewed them up and spit them out in 2010, long before any of us knew the name Dr Fauci.
In this alternate reality the world is yet to see the land of misfit toys we know as the AAC and Temple is playing in the A-10. Their schedule has been modified to be a composite of the 2010 Temple basketball schedule and the 2019-20 basketball schedule to the best of my abilities, playing a mix of a preseason tournament, many of the same matchups from this season: USC, Maryland, Davidson etc., AAC foes: Houston, UConn, Memphis etc., three of the Big 5 schools (Penn declined to play Temple), and all of Temple’s A-10 games.
Take a trip through the college hoops wormhole with me as contrary to popular belief, Quinton Rose has not played his final game in a Temple uniform. Join me as I take the 2019-2020 Temple basketball team and recreate a season that was cut a bit too short. Below is the official schedule for our Owls:
June 22nd vs USC 7:00
June 23rd vs #20 Maryland 8:00
June 24th NIT Preseason tournament opening game vs Oral Roberts 5:00 – Last tourney day June 29th
June 30th vs Texas A&M 7:00
July 1st vs Davidson 7:00
July 3rd @Wichita St 8:00
July 5th @ Houston 8:00
July 7th vs Memphis 7:00
July 11th vs FAU 3:30
July 12th vs Villanova 8:00
July 13th @ UConn 7:00
July 14th vs Va Tech 7:00
CONFERENCE PLAY (A-10)
July 18th Vs La Salle 3:30
July 19th vs Rhode Island 3:30
July 20th vs Saint Louis 7:00
July 21st vs Saint Joe’s 1:00
July 22nd @ Saint Joe’s 4:00
July 23rd @ Charlotte 7:00
July 24th @ Xavier 8:00
July 25th @ St Bonaventure 3:00
July 26th vs Fordham 3:30
July 28th vs Robert Morris 7:00
July 30th vs Charlotte 6:00
August 1st vs St Bonaventure 3:00
August 2nd @ George Washington 4:00
August 4th @ Robert Morris 7:00
August 6th @ Fordham 7:00
August 8th @ Rhode Island 3:00
Conference tourney play begins August 10th
Selection Sunday on August 16th
NCAA Tourney begins August 17th