8. Memphis Tigers (23-9, 12-6 American)-The Tigers adjusted well to their first season in the AAC, sweeping league champion Louisville and earning impressive non-conference wins over Gonzaga and Oklahoma State. But there were some rocky times too. Memphis was swept in three games by UConn, including an embarassing 72-53 defeat on their home floor in the conference tournament. The Tigers were also swept by Cincinnati and were blasted on the road at SMU.
Memphis has plenty of talent, especially in the backcourt with speedy senior Joe Jackson (14.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Missouri transfer Michael Dixon Jr. (11.8 ppg, 2.4 apg). Sophomore big man Shaq Goodwin (11.8 ppg) is a legitimate threat down low but should be a better rebounder than he is at just 6.6 rpg. Athletic wings Geron Johnson (8.9 ppg) and Chris Crawford (8.9 ppg) both have the potential to take over games but have been too inconsistent. Crawford is a big-shot maker and could take the final shot for Memphis if it comes down to that.
The Tigers try to out-run teams and have the talent to do so, but failings on the defensive end and a lack of offensive cohesiveness will probably end their tournament run before the Sweet 16.
3rd Assists per Game (17.4)
35th Points per Game (77.6)
22nd Field Goal Percentage (.479)
8th Steals per Game (8.7)
9. George Washington Colonials (24-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10)-G.W. earned a surprisingly high 9 seed after a quiet 24-win season. The Colonials do own an impressive early-season win over Creighton and beat VCU, Saint Joe’s and the laughably overseeded UMass en route to 11 wins in a tough Atlantic 10 conference. G.W. is back in the NCAAs for the first time since 2007, when they were the class of the A-10. Head coach Mike Lonergan has done a fine job rebuilding this program from scratch.
Five players average in double figures in scoring for the Colonials, led by 6-5 senior guard Maurice Creek, who puts up 14.3 per. Guard Kethan Savage (12.7 ppg) is another capable scorer, as is 6-9 forward Isaiah Armwood (12.5 ppg).
George Washington can get up and down the court and will run with Memphis, which means this game should be very entertaining. The Colonials don’t have the raw talent that the Tigers do, but they’re a well-coached bunch that will fight to the bitter end. This will be a good game.
89th Points Allowed per Game (66.9)
54th Rebounds per Game (37.4)
74th Assists per Game (14.2)
70th Field Goal Percentage (.464)