March Madness will soon take center stage in the American sports calendar as the top 68 NCAA Division I Basketball teams compete to be named college champions for 2022.
With the 32 conference champions, all guaranteed entry to the March 13 – April 4 tournament, the remaining 36 teams are decided by a selection committee, which allocates the places based on several factors, including regular season results and standings. The event will happen in Las Vegas valley, so better check the current Vegas odds March Madness favorites.
March Madness does not exactly spell good news for most of Philadelphia’s Division I Men’s basketball teams. Of the six Division I universities based in and around Philadelphia, only one is competing at the upper tier of its conference. For the rest, entry into March Madness is over.
So, let’s look at the state of play for Philadelphia’s Division I basketball teams and assess the chances of the city’s most likely representative at March Madness.
The one school from the Philadelphia area that looks set to make it to March Madness, the Villanova Wildcats are second in the Big East Conference and are in good form, winning six of their past seven games.
Many of the predictions for the March Madness seedings have the Wildcats among the third seeds for the tournament. If Villanova were to go on and win the tournament from that position, it would be an impressive achievement – although not as impressive as the school’s first title in 1985, when the Wildcats went all the way as an eighth seed (the highest seeded team ever to win the tournament).
Indeed, Villanova has more recent March Madness pedigree, too, with titles in 2016 and 2018, while the school has reached the Final Four a total of six times.
The current Wildcats team is led in offense by guard Collin Gillespie, who leads in both average points and assists per game. Villanova are certainly outsiders to make it all the way to the final, but as March Madness has proved time and again, there will always be shocks and surprises – and the Wildcats are in good form to upset the odds.
Part of the Philadelphia City 6, the Drexel Dragons do not possess quite the same March Madness history as the Villanova Wildcats, and they won’t be adding to that history this year.
Drexel did reach the tournament last year but is fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference this season and is out of contention to compete at March Madness. With one regular season game left to play, the Dragons boast an overall season record just over 50 percent (.536) and are therefore some way off the selection committee’s radar.
La Salle Explorers
The NCAA Division I champions in 1954 and finalists the following year, La Salle Explorers have not participated in March Madness since 2013. That is certainly not going to change this year, with La Salle’s second bottom of the Atlantic 10 Conference having won (at the time of writing) just three conference games and eight overall this season.
La Salle did enjoy a morale-boosting win over third-placed Dayton Flyers in its last game and will want to finish the season on a high when they take on Philadelphia rivals Saint Joseph’s in its penultimate game.
One of the most storied college basketball programs in the United States and owner of 25 Conference championship titles spanning more than a century. However, the Quakers have generally not fared too well at March Madness, with only one Final Four appearance in their history (1979).
It will now be four years since Pennsylvania made it to the NCAA Tournament and the team is in third place in the Ivy League Conference. The Quakers have had a tough season with an overall record of 12-14 – that is expected to increase to 12-15 as they play Conference-leading Princeton Tigers in their final game.
On an individual level, it has been a productive season for Quakers guard Jordan Dingle, who has averaged 20.2 points per game, which places him in the top 20 across NCAA Division I.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks
Saint Joseph’s Hawks have enjoyed plenty of success over the years, particularly in the 1960s, but they have not made it to March Madness since 2016 (which they did as Conference Tournament champions).
But this has been a difficult season for Saint Joseph’s as they sit just one place above La Salle in the Atlantic 10 Conference having won just four conference games all season. With two games remaining, the Hawks are on a six-game losing slide.
A basketball program with plenty of history, the Temple Owls had a regular presence in March Madness for more than 50 years while they competed in the Atlantic 10 Conference. However, since switching to American Athletic Conference in 2013, Temple has struggled to qualify, reaching the tournament just twice, in 2016 and 2019.
This year will be another season of watching the tournament from a distance as Temple sits fourth in the conference having won nine and lost six with two games to go.