The “Big 5” is the unofficial basketball conference of the “City of Brotherly Love.” Philadelphia’s Temple Owls, Penn Quakers, St. Joseph’s Hawks, Villanova Wildcats and La Salle Explorers make up this week’s best “conference” in all of college basketball.
This week Villanova beat No. 5 Louisville Cardinals and then followed that up with a huge win in overtime versus the No. 3 ranked Syracuse Orange. This was coming off of three straight losses at the hands of the Orange, Pittsburgh Panthers and Providence Friars.
The Explorers had a historic week beating a top ten team in the No. 9 Butler Bulldogs and then followed that up by upending the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in Richmond yesterday. This is the first time since the 1952 NIT that La Salle has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games. That team did it three straight times on its way to the NIT Championship. La Salle finds itself in a five way tie for second place in the improved A-10 and has tie breakers over VCU and Butler, two of the conference’s elites.
Earlier this season, Temple gained headlines by upending Syracuse and also challenging the Kansas Jayhawks at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. Temple went 1-1 on the week defeating Big 5 rival Penn and losing to Butler yesterday.
The Hawks were 1-1 on the week beating Xavier, while the Quakers were 0-1.
All said and done, the Big 5 was 6-3 (although there was a lone head-to-head match-up) this week. However, the wins that Villanova and La Salle complied gives both programs a huge momentum heading into February and possibly will pave the way for them to punch a ticket to March Madness.
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter: @CoachDeSalvo