NCAA

Big 5 football: Temple needs AAC win; Penn hits road; Villanova shorthanded

Big 5 football: Temple needs AAC win; Penn hits road; Villanova shorthanded

Temple (2-3, 0-2 AAC) at East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 AAC)
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, North Carolina
Saturday, noon, ESPNU


Last time out
Temple lost to Houston, 20-13, last Saturday.

East Carolina lost, 61-31, to South Florida last Saturday.

Scouting report
Temple’s offense showed signs of life in the second half against Houston, scoring 13 unanswered points. The rushing attack saw dramatic improvement. The Owls rushed for 142 yards on 37 carries after rushing for negative yards in the first half. The Owls began to run the ball more between the tackles once Houston’s All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver left and was unable to return because of an injury. After five games, Temple has a rushing unit that ranks last in the conference averaging 84.2 yards per game. Each team in the AAC averages at least 100 yards on the ground except for Temple.

East Carolina owns the worst scoring defense in the AAC. The Pirates allow 50.6 points per game while scoring only 24.6 points per game on offense. The Owls need to take advantage of a struggling Pirates defense to avoid losing their first three conference games.

What's at stake
Temple is still looking for its first conference win of the season after winning seven conference games last season. A loss to a 1-4 ECU team may cause panic for Owl fans.

Series history
This is the 15th meeting between the two squads. The series is tied, 7-7, and Temple defeated ECU, 37-10, last November.

What's next?
Temple hosts Connecticut.

ECU is at Central Florida.

Penn (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) at Central Connecticut State (2-3, 1-0 NEC)
Arute Field, New Britain, Connecticut
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Last time out
Penn lost to Dartmouth, 16-13, last Friday.

Central Connecticut State beat Sacred Heart, 26-15, last Saturday.

Scouting report
After losing to Dartmouth on a last-play TD run, Penn will look to get its 17th-ranked (FCS) running game back on track against one of the worst rushing defenses in the FCS (ranked 116th with 257.6 rushing yards allowed per game). Tre Solomon, the Ivy League's leading rusher from last year, will also likely return on Saturday after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. Look for this matchup as a key to victory for Penn.

Central Connecticut State is also averaging a measly 163 yards per game through the air and has completed just 45 percent of its throws. The Blue Devils will try to get their passing game going against Penn, which ranks 120th in the FCS in passing yards allowed per game at 332.

What's at stake
The Quakers want to rebound from a gut-wrenching loss in their Ivy League opener while building some momentum before heading into the remainder of their conference slate.

Series history
This is just the second meeting between the two teams. Penn won last year’s matchup, 28-16, at home.

What's next?
Penn heads to Columbia.

Central Connecticut State travels to Wagner.

Villanova (3-2, 1-1 CAA) vs. Maine (1-2, 0-2 CAA)
Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 1 p.m.

Last time out
Villanova won at Towson, 24-9, last Saturday.

Maine lost at James Madison, 28-10, on Sept. 23. 

Scouting report
The 12th-ranked FCS Wildcats are going into Saturday’s matchup dealing with a lot of injuries. Last week against Towson, veteran QB Zach Bednarczyk left the game with a knee injury, just one week after Rob Rolle, senior safety and CAA Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, was lost for the season with an ACL injury. Now, the Wildcats will have to start redshirt freshman Jack Schetelich, who threw three interceptions and was just 5 of 15 for 59 yards passing after coming into last Saturday’s game against Towson. He did, however, have two rushing scores to go with a passing touchdown. His play will be a large factor in deciding the outcome against Maine.

The Black Bears haven't played in a game since their loss to top-ranked James Madison on Sept. 23 because of a scheduling conflict caused by Hurricane Irma. Nonetheless, Maine boasts a top-25 FCS rushing offense, led by top-seven rusher Josh Mack (502 yards, four touchdowns), and could test ‘Nova’s stout D-line.

What's at stake
For now, the Wildcats are trying to weather the storm without Bednarczyk and avoid a slipup before their road showdown at unbeaten JMU.

Series history
The two teams are meeting for the 21st time, with Villanova holding an 11-9 advantage. Last year, the Wildcats topped the Black Bears, 26-7.

What's next?
Villanova travels to James Madison.

Maine hosts Rhode Island.

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.