Philadelphia: Destination “Upset” City

This past weekend, the city of Philadelphia saw first hand the madness of March in the NCAA Tournament. On Friday, students and workers alike in the Philadelphia area watched two local teams, Temple and La Salle, upset higher seeded favorites, N.C. State and Kansas State, in the tournament. For La Salle, it was their second win of the tournament thus far, after beating Boise State in a play-in game. To add to the drama, on Friday night, spectators at the Wachovia Center witnessed the unlikely phenomenon of number 15 seeded Florida Gulf Coast defeat the 2 seed in the South Bracket, Georgetown. This has only been done seven times since the tournament’s inception in 1938.
The two surviving Philadelphia teams, at the very least provided angst, anticipation, sore throats and gnawed fingernails to their respective fans as a result of their hard fought wins. To the die-hard fans, the big wins were not seen as completely unattainable before tip-off. Both squads have significant wins against the Top 25, which have prepared them for their tournament tasks. La Salle had impressive back-to-back wins versus, at the time, 9 seed Butler and 19 seed Virginia Commonweath, while Temple defeated, at the time, 3 Syracuse and 21 Virginia Commonwealth.
La Salle’s key to winning all season long has been their superior guard play. All seasn long, The Explorers have rode on the backs of guards Tyrek Duren, Tyrone Garland and, in particular, top scoring senior Ramon Galloway. Similar excellence at the guard position was displayed by Temple’s senior guard, Khalif Wyatt, who dropped 31 points against N.C. State. Wyatt’s offensive game has been excellent all year and is shown statistically by his 20 point per game average. To Temple fans, it was no shock to see him go off on N.C. State. Philadelphia fans have seen their teams of the past win in similar fashion with outstanding guards, including the 2004 St. Joseph’s Hawks, led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, and 2006 Villanova Wildcats, led by Allan Ray and Randy Foye. All but Ray went on to have success in the NBA. Wyatt and Galloway have the potential to get nods from the NBA. That could be determined by their success in the tournament. If they reach the Elite Eight, like St. Joe’s and ‘Nova did, the sky’s the limit for these two seniors. Of course, the city would embrace another joy ride of that magnitude this year.
Though Philadelphia frequently hosts first and second round action of the tournament, this year has been a memorable one for the city of Brotherly Love and Big Five basketball. Clearly this March, the Tournament has left its footprint on Philadelphia in a special way.

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