UConn wrapped up the regular season on Saturday in less than ideal fashion by getting blown out at Louisville. With a chance to secure a 3-seed in the conference tournament and a Quarterfinals date with a cushy opponent, the Huskies failed to answer the call and suffered their worst loss of the season by far. Now they are tasked with beating 19th ranked Memphis for the third time this season and will have to do so on the Tigers' home court.
Even though the regular season had it's ups and downs, the postseason begins with a fresh slate. Just like the regular season we will live by the 'Bazz and die by the 'Bazz but something tells me that Shabazz has a sixth gear that he's been saving for this time of year and that his tendency towards excellence in the clutch will spark a run.
Beating a ranked team three times in a season is no easy feat. Statisticians are likely to say that the odds favor a regression to the mean in the form of a Memphis win tonight. The fact that the game is at FedExForum (yes it is all one word) doesn't make things any easier. On top of that, UConn hasn't exactly blown out the Tigers in their two previous meetings this season.
In their first meeting, at FedExForum, UConn enjoyed a 23 point, 11 rebound performance from DeAndre Daniels' but needed a late surge to win a game that saw 13 lead changes. One month later in the XL Center, UConn needed every ounce of Shabazz Napier to grab an OT win.
That second loss to UConn was the start of a bumpy stretch for Memphis where they needed overtime to beat Temple and then actually lost to Houston (who does that?). They were able to turn things around though. In three games against ranked opponents to close out the season they won twice- beating SMU on the road and Louisville at home.
UConn had a tough time with Memphis' speedy guards Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson last time these two teams played. By the grace of the almighty Napier we were able to scrape out a win, but that can't happen tonight. For UConn to beat Memphis for a third time, somebody is going to have to step up and be a legitimate second option. There's certainly enough talent among Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, Lasan Kromah and Niels Giffey to pick up some slack. Lately all four of them have been rather meh.
The winner of tonight's game likely faces Cincinnati, who will be playing UCF tonight at 7 on ESPNU. UConn went 1-1 against the Bearcats in the regular season and Memphis went 0-2. That game would be tomorrow at 9pm.
Prediction: Shabazz Napier pulls a Shabazz Napier and the other guys who have been relegated to role players do just enough for the Huskies to win, 77-74