Memphis vs. Arizona
Have ever known someone that messes around when things aren’t really intense, but when the going gets tough they tend to thrive? Well that is a great way to describe the 12th seeded Memphis Tigers. Chock full of talented players, they slacked through the regular season before making a run to win the Conference USA Tournament. Their opponent in the first round of the Big Dance will be the fifth seeded Arizona Wildcats. The Sean Miller led Wildcats are back in the NCAA Tournament after missing out last year and a questionable inclusion in 2009.
Arizona did very well to finish 27-7 this year with a 14-4 in the relatively weak Pacific 10 conference. Their marquee wins came in Conference against UCLA and Washington (twice). It should be noted that UCLA came back and pounded them by 22 points the next Game and Washington beat them in the Conference Tournament. This team was 5-6 against teams that made the Big Dance, but one of those wins was against automatic qualifier North Colorado. Kansas and BYU both handily beat the Wildcats.
The Memphis Tigers finished 25-9, but fared poorly against NCAA Tournament teams, winning only against Gonzaga and UAB. Georgetown and Tennessee crushed them early in the season. This young team won 3 Games in a row to take the Conference USA title and earn their way to the Dance.
6-6 G Will Barton leads the charge for Memphis. The freshman gets 12.3 PPG, 2.8 APG and 5 RPG. The youngster has handled the pressure well so far, but this will be by far the biggest Game of his life. Will he respond? Fellow freshman Tarik Black could be pivotal as well. The big man stands 6-8 and averages 8.2 PPG and 5.2 RPG. The kid is a great shot blocker!
The Arizona Wildcats might as well be called “The Derrick Williams Show”. The sophomore gets a mind boggling 19.1 PPG to go along with 8.1 RPG. He had 17 points and an incredible 19 rebounds against Washington in their first meeting. In their next meeting he had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Memphis will have to shut him down or at least contain him in order to have a chance at the win. Williams will be playing in the NBA next year without doubt.