Pick with Analysis
Can this be considered a revenge Game? Maybe. The last time these two teams played each other, Connecticut went to Memphis and beat the Tigers by 10 points as 6.5-point underdogs. Yet, Memphis comes into this Game with a better Conference record and better ranking at No. 20 compared to UConn’s 24.
If you can’t beat the Huskies down low, they will beat you, it’s as simple as that. One thing Memphis doesn’t have is a down low presence which is a good reason UConn won in the last meeting. Is there any way the Tigers can win this Game on the road? Their last road Game was a 15-point loss at SMU. Then again, they also won at Louisville in early January.
As for Connecticut, they haven’t had any problems in recent Games outside of the top two teams in the conference. That includes a massive 83-40 win over South Florida on Wednesday. This is a Game they’re favored in, and one they should win.
In that last Game, DeAndre Daniels dominated for the Huskies en route to 23 points and 11 rebounds. He missed a couple Games due to injury, but is back now and has played in two straight. Does Memphis have enough to stop his quickness this time around? Daniels was matched up with Shaq Goodwin in that first Game and Goodwin couldn’t do much with only 10 points and two rebounds.
The fact that Memphis doesn’t have a great option down low is their main downfall. Goodwin is a good player, but still lacks a bit averaging 12.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG. since that’s the case, the Tigers have to hit their shots which doesn’t always happen. While Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson are great players in the backcOurt, Connecticut may have a better trio.
Shabazz Napier (17.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 5.6 APG) is one of the best players in the nation and he’s joined by Ryan Boatright who can Scorewith the best of them. And then there’s combo player Lasan Kromah, who provides size and athleticism which is vital on both ends of the cOurt. Prior to Wednesday, Kromah had 30 points over a two-Game stretch while averaging just 7.7 PPG on the year. In addition, Connecticut has a few more shooters off the bench in Niels Giffey and Omar Calhoun. Giffey is shooting 52.5 percent from behind the three-point line this year.
There’s no question someone will have to step up for Memphis if they want this upset. Michael Dixon Jr. had 16 points off the bench last Game and has reached double digits in five straight. Can he be the spark that keeps the Tigers in this Game?
One of those guards mentioned will have to step up at the least, especially being on the road. Goodwin is a solid player, but he doesn’t really take over Games. Joe Jackson will probably be the guy, if anyone, to take control for the Tigers.
In the end, it’s going to be a monumental task for Memphis who already lost on its home cOurt to the Huskies. As for UConn, this is the type of Game that needs to be won if they want any kind of decent seeding in March.
Predicted Score- UCONN 81 Memphis 70