Today is supposed to be a day of great college football and it will be. We get the first two BCS games this afternoon and tonight, but make sure you tune into ESPN at 1:30 PM Central for #16 Texas at #4 Memphis. Texas enters the game 10-2. The Memphis Tigers are 11-1 with their lone loss coming in a nail bitter to Duke in NYC.
After getting blown out in back to back games against Duke and Tennessee, the Texas men have responded with resounding victories over Texas State and Prairie View A&M. Is Texas improving? Or has our competition just been weaker?
Memphis is possibly the youngest and in my opinion the most athletic team in the country. The Tigers are led by senior forward Rodney Carney (16 points per game, 4 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Darius Washington (14 ppg, 4 apg), and freshman forward Shawne Williams (15 ppg, 6 rpg). Memphis is off to a great start and if the season ended today, the Tigers would be a number one seed. Earlier this season, Memphis outplayed Duke on a neutral floor before losing 70-67. They already have wins over #11 UCLA and #8 Gonzaga.
John Calipari's entire squad is extremely young. Of their top nine players, eight are freshman or sophomores. Even though they are young, they are talented and very deep. No player averages more than 30 minutes a game and nine players average over 15 minutes per game. Washington and Williams will likely be NBA lottery picks after this season.
Statistically the Tigers and the Horns are very similar. Texas averages 83 points per game. The Tigers average 86 points per game. Memphis shoots 47% as a team while Texas is slightly better at 49%. Both teams rebound the ball well and are averaging more than ten boards a game more than their opponents. Both squads have almost exactly 1 - 1 assist to turnover ratios. And last both teams like to use their athleticism in transition to get easy buckets while scoring with their frontcourts in the half court.
Keys to a Texas Victory:
Texas must get Lamarcus Aldridge involved in the offense early and often. He should touch the ball on nearly every half court set. The Horns, especially Daniel Gibson, must also control the ball. Turnovers and points off turnovers killed us in both our losses. Last, Texas must play solidly on defense. Under Rick Barnes, Texas is 104-13 when they hold their opponent under 40% shooting.
I hate to do this but at this point in the year, Memphis is playing as well as any team in the country. In an up tempo and entertaining game, Memphis wins 84-78.