Can Temple Coach Fran Dunphy finally win another NCAA tournament game?

Fran Dunphy doesn’t have the best NCAA tournament track record. In fact, the Temple coach is 2-14 all-time in March Madness. He’s only beaten Penn State in 2011 and Nebraska (with Penn) in 1994. Other than that, it’s 12 first-round exits.

But the Owls are looking solid against North Carolina State, the odds-on preseason ACC favorite whose season has since nose-dived into unceremonious waters. They opened up a 13-point lead with 7:13 left in the first half, and now enter intermission with a 38-22 lead over the Wolfpack. Jake O’Brien, who entered averaging 9.3 points per game this season, leads the way with 13 on 5-of-7 shooting.

Here’s WaPo’s John Feinstein on Dunphy from 2007, when he took over at Temple after leading the Quakers to six NCAA tournaments in eight seasons — all first-round losses:

Of course, he is being paid considerably more (reportedly close to $800,000 annually, compared with about $300,000 at Penn), and he will be expected to take Temple back to the heights it climbed during John Chaney’s highly successful and equally controversial 26 years at the school. Five times, Chaney took Temple to a region final of the NCAA tournament, never making the Final Four. But the Owls hadn’t been to the tournament since 2001, and Chaney had been involved in numerous eyebrow-raising incidents — including his admission two years ago that he ordered one of his players to hurt an opponent in a game against Saint Joseph’s.

Enter Dunphy, the anti-Chaney in many ways. If he has an enemy in college basketball, no one knows who he is. Jack Scheuer, the venerable Associated Press basketball writer who has covered every coach in Big Five history, says simply that Dunphy is “my all-time favorite — and that has nothing to do with his coaching ability.”

Plus, he used to have a really sweet mustache.

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Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · March 22, 2013