March 12, 2014
|| #19/19 Memphis (23-8, 12-6) vs #21/21 Connecticut (24-7, 12-6)
||Thursday, March 13 - 8 p.m. CT | FedExForum | American Athletic Conference Championship
|| How to Follow
Tigers On TV/Radio/Web Television:
ESPNU (Dave O'Brien, play-by-play; Doris Burke, analyst; Andy Katz, reporter)/Memphis Comcast channel 228 Radio:
WREC 600 AM (Dave Woloshin, play-by-play; Matt Dillon, color analyst; Forrest Goodman, studio host) Web:
The Last Meeting
February 15, 2014
No. 20 Memphis Comes Up Short to No. 24 UConn on the Road
A season-high 24 points from Joe Jackson was not enough for the No. 20 University of Memphis men's basketball team (19-6, 8-4 American) as they dropped an 86-81 decision to No. 24 UConn (20-5, 8-4 American) in overtime Saturday afternoon at the XL Center.
SETTING THE SCENE
Memphis (23-8, 12-6 The American) opens play in the American Athletic Conference Championship Mar. 13 against Connecticut (24-7, 12-6 The American).
ESPNU is televising Thursday's 8 p.m. (CT) American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal contest from FedExForum. The Memphis-Connecticut game can be viewed via the web at ESPN3.com/WatchESPN.com.
The Tigers enter Thursday's conference postseason tournament contest having won four of their last six games. In that stretch, Memphis posted wins over Rutgers, Temple, No. 7/4 Louisville and No. 18/18 SMU and dropped road decisions at Houston and No. 15/15 Cincinnati.
The Tigers remained in the Associated Press (AP) poll released Mar. 10 in the No. 19 spot. Memphis has appeared in all 19 AP polls this season. For a fifth-straight week, Memphis also remained in the USA Today coaches poll at No. 19. Connecticut is ranked No. 21 in both the AP and coaches' polls.
Memphis has won seven of its last 10 games entering Thursday's encounter. All three Tigers' losses in the last 10 contests were road games at Connecticut, Houston and Cincinnati.
The Tigers are 15-2 in overall home games and 7-2 in American Athletic Conference play at FedExForum in 2013-14.
The Huskies are 6-4 in true road games this season, with all four losses coming in the conference at Houston, SMU, Cincinnati and Louisville.
Connecticut is 9-4 in games played away from Storrs and Hartford. In addition to their 6-4 true road record, the Huskies defeated Maryland, Boston College and Indiana on neutral courts.
WHAT THE HUSKIES DID A YEAR AGO
Connecticut posted a 20-10 overall record and a 10-8 BIG EAST Conference mark in 2012-13.
The Huskies tied for seventh place in the BIG EAST Conference regular-season standings.
Connecticut was ineligible for 2013 postseason play.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Connecticut brings a 24-7 overall record into Thursday's American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal contest.
The Huskies tied for third in the league's regular-season standings with a 12-6 conference mark. Connecticut tied for third with Memphis and SMU.
The Huskies enter this week's American Athletic Conference Championship having won seven of their last nine games. The setbacks in that stretch were to SMU 64-55 at home Feb. 23 and at Louisville 81-48 Mar. 8.
Five of the seven Connecticut setbacks were by single digits this season.
Shabazz Napier was a unanimous pick to the 2013-14 All-American Athletic Conference first team released Mar. 11.
Napier leads three Huskies averaging double figures at 17.8 ppg (second in The American).
DeAndre Daniels (12.3 ppg) and Boatright (12.0 ppg) are Connecticut's other two double-figure scorers.
Napier is the squad's top rebounder (6.0 rpg; 13th in The American) and top playmaker (5.2 apg; second in The American).
Napier also leads the Huskies and is third in The American in steals (1.8 spg; 57 total).
Three Huskies -- Niels Giffey (50 percent), Daniels (42.9) and Napier (40.4) -- shoot over 40 percent from the three-point arc.
Connecticut is shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from the arc and 76.3 percent from the free throw line.
Among the NCAA team statistical leaders, Connecticut is 38th in three-point field goal and eighth in free throw percentage.
The Huskies are out-rebounding their opponents by a narrow margin of +0.6 boards per game (35.6-35.0).
Head coach Kevin Ollie is in his second season at Connecticut. He has a 44-17 record at the school.
IT'S AN NCAA RING THING
Both head coaches in Thursday's Memphis-Connecticut American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal match-up have NCAA title rings.
Memphis head coach Josh Pastner won his NCAA title as a player on the 1996-97 Arizona squad. Arizona defeated Kentucky for the championship.
Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie won his NCAA championship ring in 2010-11 as an assistant on Jim Calhoun's staff. The Huskies defeated Butler 53-41 for the crown.
A SECOND FOR THE HUSKIES...
For its first 110 seasons of basketball, Connecticut did not step foot in the city of Memphis to play a game.
But, in their 111th campaign, the Huskies are playing in the Bluff City for a second time this season when they meet Memphis in an American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal game Thursday, Mar. 13 at FedExForum.
Earlier this season (Jan. 16), Connecticut made its first trip to play a game in the city of Memphis in its history. The Huskies won that contest 83-73.
...AND THEIR FOURTH TRIP TO TENNESSEE
While it's their second trip to Memphis, it's the Huskies' fourth overall to the state of Tennessee.
Prior to this season's earlier visit to Memphis Jan. 16, Connecticut made a recent trip to Tennessee to play on the other side of the state.
In the 2011-12 season, the Huskies played the Volunteers in Knoxville, Tenn., and dropped a 60-57 decision (Jan. 21, 2012).
Connecticut also traveled to Nashville, Tenn., to play Vanderbilt in 2002-03. The Huskies posted a 76-70 win over the Commodores Dec. 1, 2002.
TIGERS VERSUS CONNECTICUT SCHOOLS
In their history, the Tigers have played four of the seven NCAA Division I schools from the state of Connecticut.
Memphis has a 3-3 record (.500 winning percentage) against NCAA Division I programs located in the state of Connecticut.
The Tigers have played Central Connecticut (0-1), Connecticut (1-2), Fairfield (1-0) and Yale (1-0). Memphis has not played Hartford, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.
BATTLE ON THE GLASS
Thursday's American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal contest features a battle on the glass between two teams ranked in the middle of the league in rebound margin.
The Tigers are fourth in the league with a +2.8 rebound margin, while Connecticut is sixth at +0.6.
And, in league games only, Memphis and Connecticut are in the top-five in the conference.
In league games only, the Tigers are first at +2.3. The Huskies are fifth at +0.7 in rebound margin in conference games only.
In the Jan. 16 meeting, Connecticut won the board battle 34-27. But, in the Feb. 15 rematch, Memphis out-rebounded the Huskies 38-28.
BATTLE OF SHOOTING WILLS
Thursday's American Athletic Conference Championship quarterfinal game may come down to which team wins the shooting battles from the field and arc. In the field goal percentage match-up, the Tigers are second in the American Athletic Conference at 48.5 percent. However, Connecticut is the league's second-best field goal percentage defense squad, holding its opponents to 39.1 percent. From the arc, the Huskies lead The American and are 38th in the nation with a 38.4 three-point field goal percentage. But, Memphis has the conference's second-best, three-point field goal percentage defense at 30.1 percent.
MEMPHIS IN INAUGURAL CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS
For the fifth time in their history, the Tigers are playing in an inaugural conference postseason tournament when they begin play in the American Athletic Conference Championship Thursday.
In previous seasons, Memphis participated in postseason league championships in the Mississippi Valley Conference, Metro Conference, Great Midwest Conference and Conference USA.
Memphis has a 7-4 record (.636 winning percentage) in its previous four inaugural postseason conference tournaments.
In three of the previous four league tournaments, the Tigers advanced to the title game, but lost all three.
The following shows how Memphis fared in its previous four inaugural postseason conference tournaments:
Year/Conference Record Title Game
1996/Conference USA 1-1 No
1992/Great Midwest 2-1 Yes (L)
1976/Metro 2-1 Yes (L)
1928/Mississippi Valley 2-1 Yes (L)
MEMPHIS' ALL-TIME CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
The Tigers are playing in their fifth conference postseason tournament when they open play in the American Athletic Conference Championship Thursday.
In its previous four leagues that held postseason tournaments, Memphis had a 68-32 all-time record (.680 winning percentage).
The following shows Memphis' postseason tournament records and championships by conference:
Conference/Years Record Titles
Conference USA/1996-2013 28-11 7
Great Midwest/1992-95 5-4 0
Metro/1976-91 24-12 4
Mississippi Valley/1928-33 11-5 1
MEMPHIS' RECENT CONFERENCE POSTSEASON SUCCESS
The Tigers have been on a roll in recent conference postseason tournaments.
In its last nine conference postseason classics (all in Conference USA), Memphis posted an impressive 24-2 record (.923 winning percentage).
During that stretch, the Tigers won seven conference postseason tournament titles (2006-09, 2011-13) and played in an eighth league tournament championship game (2005).
TIGERS' CONFERENCE POSTSEASON SUCCESS IN THE BLUFF CITY
The Tigers have an all-time record of 31-8 (.795 winning percentage) in conference postseason tournament games played in the Bluff City.
Memphis has won six league tournaments on its home floor.
The following shows the Tigers' record in conference tournaments hosted in Memphis:
Conference Record Inside No. of
C-USA 20-3 5
Great Midwest 1-1 0
Metro 7-3 1
Mississippi Valley 3-1 0
Total 31-8 6
A GOOD OMEN FOR TIGERS
Tiger Nation sure hopes so.
Memphis enters this week's American Athletic Conference Championship as the tournament's No. 5 seed.
The last three times they were a No. 4 seed or lower (2001, 2005, 2011), the Tigers won at least one game in the conference postseason tournament.
In 2005 and 2011, Memphis did more than win one game in the conference postseason tournament.
The 2005 Tigers, a No. 7 seed, got on a roll and advanced to the Conference USA championship game, where they dropped a heart-breaking 75-74 decision to Louisville.
As the No. 4 seed in the 2011 C-USA Championship, the Tigers put together a run for the ages in Memphis lore. The Tigers overcame an 11-point deficit in the final minutes for a thrilling 67-66 victory over UTEP on the Miners' homecourt.
ONE OF NINE IN THE POLLS
When the Mar. 10 Associated Press (AP) poll was released, the Tigers found themselves in the No. 19 spot.
Memphis has been ranked in all 19 AP polls in 2013-14.
The Tigers are one of nine programs in the nation to be ranked in all 19 AP polls this season.
The other eight programs are Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, Syracuse and Wichita State.
MEMPHIS' "RANKED WEEK PLUS"
During the season, ESPN has "Rivalry Week," "Homecourt Week," and "Bracket Builder Week."
Well, Memphis is in the midst of its own week called "Ranked Week Plus."
When they face No. 21/21 Connecticut Thursday, the Tigers will meet their fourth-straight ranked opponent.
Memphis began this stretch of playing ranked foes Mar. 1 against No. 7/4 Louisville (72-66 win).
The Tigers then played No. 15/15 Cincinnati Mar. 6 (97-84 loss) and No. 18/18 SMU Mar. 8 (67-58 win).
The last time Memphis played four-consecutive ranked opponents was the 2008 NCAA Tournament. The Tigers played No. 19 Michigan State, No. 6 Texas, No. 3 UCLA and No. 5 Kansas.
However, if looking for a similar stretch of ranked opponents prior to the NCAA Tournament, one has to go back to the 1977-78 season.
That season, Memphis played four-straight ranked opponents in the regular season. The Tigers faced No. 2 Arkansas, No. 10 Louisville and No. 19 Cincinnati in back-to-back games from Dec. 31, 1977 through Jan. 21, 1978.
If they are fortunate to win Thursday's game versus Connecticut, the Tigers could possibly face a fifth-straight ranked opponent in Cincinnati.
If that happens, it would be the first time in program history that Memphis would play five-consecutive ranked foes.