Ten point loss for Penn: OVER
Temple (12-5) plays Penn (3-14) in its last matchup before traveling to No. 9 Butler. A trap game for the Owls as they keep their attention focused on playing a national powerhouse in just three days? The problem with this theory is that Temple has already played then-No. 2 Duke, then-No. 3 Syracuse and then-No. 6 Kansas. In the so-called “trap games” right before those matchups, Temple is 2-1. Although history suggests that if Temple hopes to beat Butler, then the Owls should drop this game against Penn. Their lone victory over a top-10 opponent this season came against Syracuse after losing to Canisius three days earlier.
Still, Temple is in the hunt for a Big 5 title with a 1-0 record at this point in the season. The wheels are falling off for a Penn team that will most likely be without leading scorer Fran Dougherty for the eighth straight game. Even an unfocused Temple team, Fran Dunphy, would secure a comfortable win over the reeling Quakers, who are 0-3 against Big 5 opponents this season.
Double-double for Darien Nelson-Henry: UNDER
Freshman big man Darien Nelson-Henry recorded his first collegiate double-double last week against NJIT. He followed that up with 17 points and seven rebounds against St. Joseph’s. But this time around, DNH will be going up against Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Anthony Lee, who will provide a much tougher test for the Quakers' new offensive weapon. With Miles Cartwright struggling and Fran Dougherty sidelined, Temple will try to shut down the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week and force other Quakers to score. The story might be different if Nelson-Henry were a threat at the free throw line, but Temple won't be scared of his 54.8 percent mark at the charity stripe. Look for the big bodies inside to be physical and force Darien to earn his points.
His season average is 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Expect his production to exceed those numbers, but a double-double will be tough sledding against the talented Owls frontcourt.
0-4 Record in Big 5 next season: OVER
Penn is one of a handful of programs in Division I college basketball that boasts no seniors. That means that we can expect all 61.6 points per game to return with another year of experience. For a team that has suffered some heart-breaking losses and is just 38 total points away from a winning record (assuming they came in the Quakers' closest losses), there is great reason to be optimistic about the return of some old Penn basketball magic.
With a healthy Fran Dougherty, a talented rising sophomore class, a huge junior class with six players finally becoming upperclassmen, and another recruiting class to fill in the gaps, expect Penn to be able to keep up with the Big 5 and probably secure a victory…wait for it…or two. At the very least, the Red and Blue should have a much more respectable record than the 3-14 that currently unfairly characterizes them.
Sure, at the end of the day, wins and losses are all that matter, but this team has played some close games and unfortunately hasn’t had enough in the tank to turn those games into wins. The last reason that Penn will win a Big 5 game next season is stability in the assistant coaching situation. This is an entirely new staff and getting used to their coaching style takes time. Look for the players to have a better feel for their coaches next season and improve drastically in that regard.