This is a Big Ten blog, so I have no problem openly admitting that before today, I knew very little about the No. 10 seeded Temple Owls. After all, you can only watch so much basketball and the American Athletic Conference regrettably didn't make the cut night in and night out. So, the extent of my knowledge about Temple before my deep dive came from my fiance's family and some things I picked up here and there. For example, I know that their head coach, Fran Dunphy -- shouts to Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania -- once had a mustache that any Chicago native would love. I know about the Bill Cosby connection (sorry). And I know that one of my favorite players as a kid, Steady Eddie Jones, was the A-10 Player of the Year during the 1993-94 season.
See, not very much.
With so little to back up any legitimate opinions, I took my eyes to the talented world of KenPom and the Google machine and started digging in. Here's what I found:
Temple is a jump shooting team
The Owl's current FTA/FGA -- which accounts for how often a team gets to the line relative to it's own ability to get shots off -- is 346th in the country, which shows me this team is completely uninterested in getting to the hoop. While Iowa's isn't much better (especially since Settlefest 2016 started in February), if the Hawkeyes can amp up their perimeter defense (wishful thinking, I know) and catch Temple on an average night (44.6% from inside the arch, 34% from outside), everything should work out in their favor.
But, if this thing turns into a jump shooting competition -- with Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok trading "my turn" possessions while the rest of the squad stands by watching -- and Temple gets hot in front of what should be somewhat of a home crowd, Iowa could be in trouble.
If they buckle down around the perimeter, eliminate their "hand down, man down" defensive efforts of the past and make Temple's life a living hell outside of the lane, they can prevent the Fight for Philadelphia/Big 5 rematch that everyone seems to predicting right now.
Note to the reader: I hate that I'm fully expecting Temple to have their best shooting performance of the season because #Iowa. Make the pain and negativity stop. Somebody. Anybody.
Temple isn't the best offensive rebounding team
One of Iowa's biggest Achilles Heels during this recent downward spiral has been their ability to keep the opposition off of the weakside glass. The Hawkeyes have been obliterated and abused by this over and over and over again:
And those are just two, painful examples.
Fran McCaffery needs to force his team to fix this problem. It's a must if Iowa wants to make a run. If they can be a little more disciplined when a shot goes up, the unit as a whole should be able to keep the Owl's (198th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 29%, compared to say Indiana, who came in at 37.7%) from getting multiple cracks at those tasty wide open jumpers against a scrambled, out of position defense.
If I were on the coaching staff, I would be throwing on some game tape of how Purdue and Michigan State religiously create a four man shell within the lane after a shot goes up and completely limit any backside activity.
And then I would get on my knees and beg my players to replicate everything that they see.
Please, please, pretty please, Iowa.
Temple wants to hit you in the mouth
There is actually one more thing that I do know about Temple: Dunphy's bunch gather's their confidence from playing hard nosed, Memphis Grizzlies, grind you out defense. They want to get back into their set and knock you around. They play an in your face, man-to-man D.
They. Will. Not. Back. Down.
It's probably the biggest reason they have won 10 of their last 13 games.
Transition points are going to be extremely important to keep Temple on their heels and the Hawkeyes are going to have to keep them off balance. Everything about Temple's style of game screams "Bo Ryan". Slow. Methodical. Tough. Muck-it-up.
So the more Iowa can run, the more unsettled the Owls will look.
It's also going to be extremely important for Uthoff to not let them push him around because they are 100% going to try. He's had a tendency to shrivel up a little bit when he has a more physically imposing defender in front of him. He's going to have to work to get his shots, which is totally fine. But the entire team will run into trouble if he gets frustrated and starts settling for early fall away, long distance jumpers.