The University of Memphis Tigers
KenPom: 34th Overall (50th Offense, 37th Defense)
2013-'14 Record: 19-5 (8-3 AAC)
Head Coach: Josh Pastner
This is the beginning of the home stretch for UConn. They play each of the ranked teams in The American once more as they jockey for seeding going into the conference tournament. The Huskies currently stand fifth, which I'm sure we never imagined happening, yet they have a chance to move up to fourth with a win today against the 20th ranked Memphis Tigers.
Here are the standings and remaining difficult games for the top half of the conference:
|Cincinnati||11-1||vs. LOU, @UConn, vs. Memphis|
|Louisville||9-2||@Cinci, @Memphis, @SMU, vs. UConn|
|SMU||9-3||@UConn, vs. LOU, @Memphis|
|Memphis||8-3||@UConn, vs. LOU, @Cinci, vs. SMU|
|Connecticut||7-4||vs. Memphis, vs. SMU, vs. Cinci, @LOU|
Cincinnati has a pretty strong hold on first place. With three tough games remaining and a 2.5 game lead on second place Louisville, the Bearcats are likely to capture the first American Conference regular season championship.
The next four slots in the AAC Tournament bracket are wide open. Any of those teams can finish between second and fifth depending on how this stretch plays out, believe it or not we're actually in for a pretty exciting end to the season! The goal will be to finish second or third because this would virtually guarantee a spot in the semi-finals since the bottom half of the conference is a basketball wasteland. The fourth and fifth seeded teams will face each other in the quarterfinals. Despite being in fifth right now, UConn is in a good position to move into the Top 3.
The Tigers come into Hartford having won seven of their last eight since the loss to UConn at home on January 16th. That game went back and forth for a bit before the Huskies pulled away late, driven by DeAndre Daniels' 23 point, 11 rebound performance and 17 points, 10 assists from Shabazz Napier. In that game Lasan Kromah was a perfect 5-5 from the field with 13 points, and even Omar Calhoun got into the action, exploding for 7 points! It was a great team win for the Huskies with multiple players getting involved and arguably the beginning of a resurgence for a UConn team which we weren't too sure about after losses in the previous month to Stanford, Houston, SMU and a close win against a Harvard team which was missing it's leading scorer.
Kevin Ollie believes that this UConn team is stronger defensively and on the boards than the team that beat Memphis a month ago. Ollie has credited the lessons from the loss to Louisville as the impetus for their recent success. UConn is 5-1 since that game with a hard fought loss to Cincinnati on the road. Last time out against Memphis they enjoyed a 34-27 rebounding advantage- if the Huskies are indeed a better rebounding team this bodes well for us as UConn is 12-0 when they win the rebounding battle.
Prediction: It's been clear that the Huskies are firing on all cylinders for a while now. I think UConn's defense leads the way and the Huskies win this one, 70-62.