Memphis Tigers (8 seed, 23-9) vs. George Washington Colonials (9 seed, 24-8)
When: Friday, March 21, 2014
Time: 6:55 PM
Even with four senior guards (Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon Jr., Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford) who average at least 22 minutes and eight points a game on the roster, inconsistent play has plagued the Memphis Tigers all season long.
Throughout the season, there have been moments where the Tigers have looked like a top ten team in the country–exhibited by their victories over at the time, No. 5 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and their six-point road win at Louisville, the defending national champions. But there have been other times where Memphis has looked like a lock for the NIT, losing three times in three games to the Connecticut Huskies by an average of 11 points and losing in wire-to-wire fashion to the Cincinnati Bearcats late in the season.
Having won just one tournament game in three appearances over the past four seasons under head coach Josh Pastner, his inability to make the necessary late game adjustments has been the Tiger’s biggest plague, despite their talented roster.
On the other hand, if you believe in the Colonials, I understand why. They’re a steady team, and although they don’t have the star player, they’ll play tough for 40 minutes. Looking to regain the magic that was on display during their Sweet 16 run in 1993, the Colonials return to the dance for the first time since 2007. With all five starters averaging double digits in points, the Colonials rely on balance scoring in order to be successful. Having a starting lineup with three sophomores, the Colonials posted wins in 5 of 7 games, including 4 wins over tournament teams on the 2013-14 season. Getting a boost from the return of 2nd leading scorer Kethan Savage coming back from a foot injury, will be a huge factor, but not enough to keep this game close.
What this game will come down too will be the depth, talent and experience of the Tigers. It’s that simple.