Memphis (30-4, 16-0 C-USA) opens play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament Thursday, Mar. 21 when it travels to Auburn Hills, Mich., for a second-round encounter. The Tigers will meet the winner of an NCAA Tournament First Four match-up between Middle Tennessee (28-5, 19-1 Sun Belt) and Saint Mary's (27-6, 14-2 WCC).
Thursday's contest, to be televised on CBS Sports, is slated for an approximate 1:45 p.m. (CT) tip.
Memphis is the Midwest Region's No. 6 seed, while Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary's are playing in the NCAA First Four as No. 11 seeds. The Blue Raiders and Gaels will play their First Four game Tuesday, Mar. 19 at 8:10 p.m. (CT) in Dayton, Ohio.
The Tigers remained in the national polls for a sixth-straight week. Memphis moved up to the No. 19 spot in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Memphis bounced back after its Feb. 26 setback at Xavier with six-consecutive wins, including three victories to claim the 2013 Conference USA Tournament championship.
Prior to its Mar. 2 win at UCF, Memphis had its 18-game winning streak snapped Feb. 26 when it dropped a narrow 64-62 decision at Xavier. The Tigers' previous loss came 72 days before on Dec. 15 to No. 6/6 Louisville.
Middle Tennessee had won 17 straight before falling to FIU 61-57 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinal round Mar. 10.
Saint Mary's had won six-consecutive games before dropping a 65-51 decision to No. 1 Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship contest Mar. 11.
WHAT'S UP NEXT
The winner of the Memphis versus Middle Tennessee/Saint Mary's NCAA Tournament second-round contest will face the winner of the Michigan State-Valparaiso second-round match-up in a Saturday third-round game.
Memphis-Middle Tennessee Notes
SCOUTING THE BLUE RAIDERS
Middle Tennessee brings a 28-5 overall record into NCAA Tournament play.
The Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt Conference regular season crown with a 19-1 league mark, with the lone setback a 66-60 overtime loss at Arkansas State Jan. 3.
Of Middle Tennessee's five losses, three were by single digits and two came in overtime.
The Blue Raiders are 1-2 in neutral-site games this season.
Marcos Knight is the Blue Raiders' lone double-figure scorer at 12.5 ppg. Raymond Cintron is the squad's second-leading scorer at 8.7 ppg.
Knight also leads Middle Tennessee on the glass with a 5.8 rebounding average. Shawn Jones is second on the team at 5.4 rpg.
Bruce Massey is the squad's top playmaker with 109 total assists (3.3 apg).
Raymond (44 percent), James Gallman (41.8) and Kerry Hammons II (40.2) all shoot over 40 percent from the three-point line.
Nine Blue Raiders average double-digits minutes played.
Middle Tennessee is shooting 46.3 percent from the field, 37.8 percent from the arc and 69.3 percent from the free throw line.
The Blue Raiders are out-rebounding their opponents by an average margin of +6.0 boards per game (36.8-30.8).
Middle Tennessee leads the Sun Belt in 10 team statistical categories.
MEMPHIS VERSUS THE SUN BELT
The Tigers have an all-time record of 108-58 (.651 winning percentage) against current members of the Sun Belt Conference.
Memphis has played Arkansas-Little Rock (4-0), Arkansas State (32-28), Florida International (1-0), Louisiana-Lafayette (8-1), Louisiana-Monroe (10-0), Middle Tennessee (27-14), North Texas (16-6), South Alabama (1-0) and Western Kentucky (8-9).
Memphis last played a Sun Belt Conference foe in the 2010-11 season. The Tigers played two Sun Belt teams in back-to-back games in early December of that 2010-11 campaign.
Memphis defeated Arkansas State 78-71 (ot) Dec. 1 and Western Kentucky 77-61 Dec. 4. Both games were played at FedExForum.
The last time Memphis played a Sun Belt foe in NCAA Tournament play was in 2007. The Tigers defeated North Texas 73-58 in an opening-round contest in New Orleans, La. (Mar. 16, 2007).
The last time Memphis dropped a game to a Sun Belt Conference opponent came in the 1999-2000 campaign. The Tigers lost 84-72 at Arkansas State on Dec. 16, 1999.
TIGERS VERSUS IN-STATE NCAA DIVISION I FOES
Memphis has an all-time 132-75 record (.638 winning percentage) against current in-state NCAA Division I basketball programs (12 total including Memphis).
The Tigers may play their fifth in-state NCAA Division I opponent this year if they meet Middle Tennessee Thursday. • Memphis has already played in-state foes UT Martin Nov. 29, Austin Peay Dec. 8, Lipscomb Dec. 20 and Tennessee Jan. 4. The Tigers won all four match-ups.
Under head coach Josh Pastner, Memphis has a 14-2 record (.875 winning percentage) against in-state NCAA Division I foes.
Pastner has coached against seven of the other 11 in-state NCAA Division I basketball schools (Middle Tennessee would be the eighth in-state opponent for Pastner).
The city of Memphis will be well represented in Thursday's NCAA Tournament second-round contest if the Tigers face Middle Tennessee.
The squads combine to have 10 players from Memphis area on the two rosters.
The Blue Raiders have three players -- Blake Johnson (Southwind High School), Jason Jones (Ridgeway High School) and Finoy Perkins (Hamilton High School) -- that call Memphis home.
Memphis and Middle Tennessee have played two common opponents in 2012-13 and the following shows those results:
69-53, W (A) 86-71, W (H)
84-64, W (H)
93-71, W (H) 76-67, W (A)
75-61, W (A)
IT'S AN (NCAA) RING THING
If Memphis meets Middle Tennessee Thursday, both benches can claim an NCAA championship ring.
For Memphis, it's Tigers head coach Josh Pastner with the NCAA title ring. He won the crown as a player on the 1996-97 Arizona squad that upset Kentucky.
In fact, Pastner's Arizona team is the only one in NCAA Tournament history to defeat three No. 1 seeds in the same tournament.
For Middle Tennessee, it's assistant coach Monte Towe with the NCAA title. Towe won his ring as N.C. State's starting point guard in 1974.
The Wolfpack won the title game over Marquette, but had to defeat seven-time defending champion UCLA in the national semifinal to reach the championship contest.
Memphis-Saint Mary's Notes
SCOUTING THE GAELS
Saint Mary's brings a 27-6 overall record into NCAA Tournament play. The Gaels finished second in the West Coast Conference regular season with a 14-2 league mark.
The Gaels advanced to the West Coast Conference Tournament title game, but dropped a 65-51 decision to Gonzaga.
Matthew Dellavedova leads four Gaels in double figures with a 15.8 scoring average.
Stephen Holt (11.8 ppg), Beau Levesque (10.7 ppg) and Brad Waldow (10.2 ppg) also average double digits in the scoring column.
Waldow leads Saint Mary's on the glass with a 6.1 rebounding average. Mitchell Young (5.5 rpg) and Holt (5.4 rpg) average over five boards per contest.
Dellavedova is the squad's top playmaker with 212 total assists (6.4 apg).
Holt leads five Gaels that shoot 34 percent or better from the arc with a 47.4 percentage.
Saint Mary's is shooting 47.4 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from the three-point line and 72.6 percent from the charity stripe.
The Gaels are dominating their opponents on the glass, out-rebounding them by an average margin of +8.7 boards per game (37.1-28.4).
Memphis and Saint Mary's have played two common opponents in 2012-13 and the following shows those results:
52-48, W (N)
75-82, L (A)
60-50, W (H)
70-69, W (H)
TIGERS VERSUS THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE
The Tigers have an all-time record of 18-9 (.667 winning percentage) versus West Coast Conference (WCC) schools. Memphis has played BYU (3-1), Gonzaga (5-2), Pepperdine (6-1), Portland (1-3), Saint Mary's (1-0), San Francisco (2-0) and Santa Clara (0-2).
The last time Memphis played a West Coast Conference school was the 2010-11 season. The Tigers traveled to Spokane, Wash., and pulled out a thrilling 62-58 victory over Gonzaga in Spokane Arena (Feb. 5, 2011).
HEY, WE KNOW YOU!
If the Tigers meet Saint Mary's Thursday, they may recognize a familiar face on the Gaels bench.
Senior guard Paul McCoy transferred to Saint Mary's from SMU following the 2009-10 season.
In his two games as a freshman in 2008-09, McCoy averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists versus the Tigers.
McCoy only played one time against Memphis in 2009-10 due to an injury. In that one appearance against the Tigers, he was held scoreless in 14 minutes of action.
McCoy's SMU squads were 1-3 versus the Tigers in his four meetings in 2008-09 (0-2) and 2009-10 (1-1).
Memphis NCAA Tournament Notes
MEMPHIS IN THE NCAA TOURNEY
The Tigers are playing in their 25th overall and third-straight NCAA Tournament in 2013. Memphis has an overall NCAA Tournament record of 32-24 (.571 winning pct.).
In last year's NCAA Tournament, the Tigers, the West Region No. 8 seed, fell to No. 9 seed Saint Louis 61-54 in the second round in Columbus, Ohio.
The Tigers program made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1955.
Memphis advanced to the 1973 and 2008 NCAA Tournament championship games, falling to UCLA and Kansas, respectively.
The Tigers advanced to the 1985 Final Four, dropping a 50-45 decision to Villanova in the national semifinals.
TIGERS SEEDS IN NCAA TOURNEY
For the fourth time in their NCAA Tournament history, the Tigers are a No. 6 seed. Memphis is the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region.
Memphis was also a No. 6 seed in the 1984, 1992 and 1995 NCAA Tournaments, and the Tigers were placed in the Midwest Region in those three appearances.
In the 2006 NCAA Tournament, Memphis earned a No. 1 seed, marking the first time in school history the Tigers were a top seed. The 2007-08 Tigers also earned a No. 1 seed.
Overall, the Tigers have been a top-four seed eight times. In addition to its No. 1 seeds in 2006 and 2008 and four No. 2 seeds in 1982, 1985, 2007 and 2009, Memphis was a No. 3 seed in 1986 and a No. 4 seed in 1983.
The NCAA Tournament began seeding teams in 1979.
A SWEET NO. 6 FOR THE TIGERS
Some say that the No. 7 is lucky. Well, the Tigers like the No. 6 just fine.
In its three previous NCAA Tournaments as a No. 6 seed in 1984, 1992 and 1995, Memphis posted a 7-3 record (.700 winning percentage).
The Tigers as a No. 6 seed advanced to two Sweet Sixteens (1984, 1995) and one Elite Eight (1992).
TIGERS IN FAMILIAR NCAA TERRITORY
For the 10th time overall, Memphis was placed in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region.
Prior to this year, the Tigers were Midwest Region participants in 1956, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1992 and 1995.
Memphis' NCAA Tournament record when it begins in the Midwest Region is 16-9 (.640 winning percentage).
The Tigers have made several deep runs in their previous Midwest Region appearances.
Two of Memphis' NCAA Final Fours came through the Midwest Region in 1973 (title game) and 1985 (national semifinal).
The Tigers also made one other Elite Eight (1992) and three additional Sweet Sixteens (1983, 1984, 1995) when placed in the Midwest Region.
MEMPHIS VERSUS NCAA FIELD
The Tigers played four teams in the NCAA Tournament field in the 2012-13 regular season and posted a 1-3 record in those encounters.
Memphis defeated Harvard (60-50) and dropped decisions to VCU (78-65) and Minnesota (84-75) at the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas in late November. The Tigers also fell to Louisville 87-78 in a mid-December encounter at FedExForum.
THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
For the first time in school history, Memphis plays an NCAA Tournament game in the state of Michigan Thursday when the Tigers face either Middle Tennessee or Saint Mary's in Auburn Hills.
The most visited state by the Tigers in NCAA Tournament play is Texas. Memphis has played 17 NCAA Tournament games in the Lone Star state.
BUT TIGERS AREN'T FIRST-TIMERS TO DETROIT AREA
Memphis has played in the Detroit area, but it's been awhile.
The Tigers played a late-season, non-conference game at the University of Detroit in the 1984-85 season.
Memphis dropped a 71-66 decision to the Titans on Feb. 28, 1985.
After that setback, that Tigers squad won eight straight to claim the Metro Conference Tournament title and advance to the NCAA Final Four.
TIGERS HAVE EXPERIENCED NCAA TOURNAMENT STAFF
Despite only being together for only a couple of seasons (for Collins only one year), the Memphis coaching staff brings plenty of NCAA Tournament experience into this year's "Big Dance."
As a staff member or assistant coach, the Tigers' staff -- Josh Pastner, Aki Collins, Damon Stoudamire and Jimmy Williams -- has combined for 29 NCAA Tournament appearances (includes 2013 NCAA). If collegiate playing/undergraduate careers are added, then the number of NCAA Tournament appearances climbs to 37.
Among the staff, there is one NCAA title, three NCAA Final Fours, seven Elite Eights and 12 Sweet Sixteens.
For the sixth time in school history, the Tigers have won 30 games in a season. Memphis enters the NCAA Tournament with a 30-4 record.
The following lists the other 30-win teams in school history:
*Tied NCAA record for most wins, single season
ONE OF ONLY TWO/PART 1
Memphis is one of only two teams in the nation to enter the 2013 NCAA Tournament play with 30 or more victories. The Tigers are 30-4 entering this year's tournament.
The other 30-win team entering this year's NCAA Tourmmant is Gonzaga (31-2 record).
TIGERS SWEEP C-USA CROWNS
With its thrilling 91-79 double-overtime win over Southern Miss Mar. 16, Memphis made it a sweep of the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. The Tigers defeated Southern Miss in the C-USA Tournament title game.
It is the Tigers' sixth sweep of the C-USA championships in the last eight seasons.
Memphis swept the C-USA titles in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2011-12 and 2012-13.
On Mar. 2, Memphis claimed the outright C-USA regular-season crown with a 76-67 win at UCF. The Tigers finished the C-USA regular season with a perfect 16-0 record.
ONE OF TWO/PART 2
With their C-USA Tournament title game win Mar. 16, the Tigers became only the second team in NCAA Division I basketball to finish the conference regular season with an undefeated record and also claim the league tournament crown.
Memphis went 16-0 in the C-USA regular season and then also won its league tournament.
The other team to do so is Gonzaga.
PERFECTION TIMES FOUR ACHIEVED
For the fourth time in the last seven seasons, Memphis completed the Conference USA regular season with an unblemished mark.
Memphis finished the C-USA campaign with a 16-0 league record.
The 2012-13 Tigers tied four other teams in C-USA history with a perfect 16-0 league regular season.
The other four teams to do so are the 2008-09, 2007-08 and 2006-07 Memphis teams and the 1999-2000 Cincinnati squad.
PASTNER HAS WIN NO. 100
With the Tigers' 76-67 win at UCF Mar. 2, head coach Josh Pastner recorded the 100th victory of his career.
Pastner's record stands at 105-33.
Pastner is the sixth head coach in Tigers basketball history to record 100 career wins. The other five Memphis head coaches are Larry Finch (220 wins), John Calipari(214), Zach Curlin (173), Dana Kirk (158) and Bob Vanatta (109).
The Tigers' current four-year senior class has a record of 105-33 (.761 winning percentage).
The following lists the top-five winningest four-year senior classes in school history:
2005-06 to 2008-09
2006-07 to 2009-10
2004-05 to 2007-08
1983-84 to 1986-87
2002-03; 2004-05 to 2006-07
2009-10 to present
* NCAA record
TIGERS THIRD TO WIN NO. 350 IN 21ST CENTURY
With its win over Houston Feb. 20, Memphis became the third program at the NCAA Division I level to win 350 games in the 21st century. The Tigers now have 358 victories since 2000-01.
Kansas (387 wins) and Duke (385 wins) are the other two programs with 350 or more victories since 2000-01.
MARCH IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
The month of March is what all college basketball teams play for, so squads want to be playing their best at that time.
The Tigers have had a long history of success in March, and they hope to continue that this year.
Since 1999-2000, Memphis has an impressive 76-26 record (.745 winning percentage) when playing in March. The Tigers' record is even better in March since 2004-05, as they are 57-15 (.792 winning percentage).
The Tigers are 18-5 (.783 winning percentage) in March under Josh Pastner.
TIGERS AMONG ELITE GROUP
Memphis is among the winningest NCAA Division I programs since 2000-01 and 2005-06, but it doesn't end there.
The Tigers are a part of another elite group at the NCAA Division I level.
Memphis is one of nine programs that has won 20 or more games each of the last 10 seasons. All nine programs have also won 20 games in 2012-13.
The following lists the nine NCAA Division I programs that have 20 or more wins the each of the last 11 years (2002-03 to 2012-13):
"CLUTCH" HITTING HIS STRIDE
Chris Crawford, whose nickname is "Clutch," has found his range from the arc in recent games.
The 6-foot-4 junior is shooting 48.7 percent from the three-point line (56-of-115) since Jan. 19 versus Harvard.
In the eight games prior to Jan. 19, Crawford shot 5.0 percent from the arc (1-of-19).
"CLUTCH" SETS TOURNEY TREY MARK, TIES ANOTHER
On his way to winning the Conference USA Tournament MVP, Chris "Clutch" Crawford put on one of the best three-point shooting performances in Memphis and C-USA history.
In the three C-USA Tournament games, Crawford was 19-of-35 from the arc (54.3 percent).
The 19 three-pointers made set a C-USA Tournament record.
His eight treys made versus Tulsa in the C-USA Tournament semifinal Mar. 15 tied a tourney single-game mark.
The eight three-pointers are tied for the second-most in a single game in Tigers history.
100 AND COUNTING
He's wowed Tigers fans with his high-flying acrobatics during his career.
His dunks have been in ESPN's SportsCenter Top-10 five times in 2012-13.
And he was Intersport's Dunks of the Year winner in 2011-12.
And, with his three slams Feb. 13 versus UCF, senior D.J. Stephens surpassed 100 dunks for his career. He currently has 122 career slams.
The following is a year-by-year breakdown of Stephens' dunks:
TIGERS DISHIN' AND DIMIN'
A lot has been made recently about the Tigers sharing the ball, and the numbers back up the reason everyone is talking about the team's unselfishness.
In its last 12 games (since Southern Miss Feb. 9), Memphis has assisted on 242 of its 360 made field goals for an incredible assists percentage of 67.2. During the 12-game stretch, the Tigers have had six 20-assist games.
For the season, Memphis has assisted on 585 of its 937 field goals made for an assists percentage of 62.4 percent and has dished out 20 or more assists in a game 10 times.
The following breaks down the Tigers' assists parade the last 12 games:
at Southern Miss
100 DIMES TIMES 3 EQUALS A TIGERS FIRST
Well, the equation may not add up mathematically, but it has for the Tigers in 2012-13.
For the first time in the program's history, Memphis has three players with 100 or more assists in a season.