In what has seemingly become a yearly tradition, Memphis is in the tournament after winning 30 games. The only issue being that the general overall weakness of their conference tends to inflate that win total. The Tigers are led by junior guard Joe Jackson who is a quick and who leads the team. He is adept at getting into the lane. He is a good outside shooter while shooting over 50% from the floor overall. He also averages nearly 5 assists a game. Sophomore Adonis Thomas likes to play at a fast pace and can use his size to finish amongst taller players while also pulling up for jump shots. He can be a big matchup problem due to his size and is a decent rebounder averaging 5 a game. Junior Chris Crawford is the team’s leading three point threat and is not afraid to take the shot in transition. Junior Geron Johnson is also a strong outside shooter who plays heavy minutes and can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways.
Saint Mary’s comes into the tourney having played well winning 16 of 18. Their last loss was to number 1 ranked Gonzaga and they handled Middle Tennessee in the first round. Senior guard Matthew Dellavedova is the team leader in scoring at 16 per game and assists at 6 per game. He is the floor general and decision maker that will have control over the game. The ball will be in his hands and he has made the right choice more often than not. Junior Stephen Holt joins him in the backcourt he is a strong outsider shooter and rebounds well for a guard at nearly 5 a game. Junior forward Beau Levesque averages over 10 points per game and shoots an astounding 47% from the 3 point line. Sophomore Brad Waldrow is strong inside presence who averages 10 points and 6 boards per contest. Memphis comes into the tournament on fire having only lost once in the last 25 games. They are a high scoring team that averages 76 points per game. It is difficult to assess strength because neither team has a “big” win on the season.
While Saint Mary’s will rely heavily on Dellavedova, Memphis is a balanced team with depth that can withstand foul trouble and make a substitution when there is poor play. If Dallavedova has an off night or even an average night then the Tigers are sure to advance. This may come down to who can avoid turnovers as well as convert from the 3 point line. Saint Mary’s is a very efficient offensive team and will need that to continue for them to keep pace with the high scoring Tigers. As the 1 point spread indicates this as close as two teams can get. Memphis has had several early round flameouts over recent years; however this year will not be one of them.
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