Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dancing with the Stars: Memphis

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Conference: Conference USA

Record: 25-9, 10-6

Rankings: 92 (KenPom), 72 (Sagarin), 81 (RPI)

Potential Seed: 10/11

Best Players: Will Barton (12.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.8 apg), Joe Jackson (9.6 ppg, 3.0apg), Tarik Black (9.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg)

Big Wins, Bad Losses: Memphis actually has 13 top 100 wins, but the only top 100 wins outside of their league have been Gonzaga and Miami FL. The Tigers also have a couple of ugly losses -- SMU, East Carolina, Rice -- which, combined with their close wins against mediocre competition, throws into question just how good this team really is.

Tendencies: Memphis is a team with a lot of young, athletic players, and they play like it. They are pretty good defensively, ranking 60th in the country in defensive efficiency, and a lot is a result of their ability to make plays on the defensive end of the floor. They block shots and they creates steals, but they also gamble and expose their defense. Offensively, this team has battled selfishness problems. As talented as these youngsters are, they don't really understand team play just yet. There is a lot of 1-on-1 on that end and not enough ball movement or three point shooting.

How They Got There: Memphis struggled during non-conference play, allowing teams like Northwestern State, Arkansas State, and Texas A&M-CC to hang around much longer than they should. They jumped out to a 5-1 started in C-USA play, but finished the year just 5-5, losing three of their last five games. As the four seed in the tournament, the Tigers beat Southern Miss in the first round. They beat East Carolina (who made their path infinitely easier by upsetting one seed UAB) before riding the coattails of Joe Jackson to the league's automatic bid.

Outlook: Honestly? I don't have an answer. Memphis has the talent on their roster to be able to make if out of the first weekend. Do I think they will? No. There is something missing with this team. They are too inconsistent from game to game and possession to possession.

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