Memphis (31-4, 16-0 C-USA) continues play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament Saturday, Mar. 23 when it meets Michigan State (26-8, 13-5 Big Ten) in a third-round contest at The Palace at Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Saturday'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 Michigan State is the region's No. 3 seed.
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. The Spartans are ranked No. 9 in both national polls.
Memphis bounced back after its Feb. 26 setback at Xavier with seven-consecutive wins, including three victories to claim the 2013 Conference USA Tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament second-round win. Of the Spartans' eight losses, seven were by single digits.
WHAT'S UP NEXT
The winner of the Memphis-Michigan State NCAA Tournament third-round contest will advance to the Midwest Region semifinal in Indianapolis, Ind., Friday, Mar. 29.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Michigan State brings a 26-8 overall record into Saturday's NCAA Tournament third-round encounter. The Spartans went 13-5 in Big Ten Conference play.
The Spartans tied for second in the Big Ten Conference regular season and advanced to the league tournament semifinal round.
Of Michigan State's eight losses, seven were by single digits. The average margin of loss in those seven single-digit setbacks was 4.6 points.
Michigan State is 3-2 in neutral-site games.
Keith Appling leads a trio of double-figure scorers with a 13.6 average. Gary Harris (12.8 ppg) and Adreian Payne (10.3 ppg) also average double digits for the Spartans.
Payne (7.4 rpg), Derrick Nix (6.5 rpg) and Branden Dawson (6.0 rpg) all average six rebounds.
Appling is the team's top playmaker with 118 total assists (3.5 apg).
Nix (44.1 percent), Harris (41.2) and Travis Trice (40) all shoot 40 percent or better from the three-point line.
Six Spartans average 20 or more minutes played per game.
Michigan State is shooting 46 percent from the field, 34.3 percent from the arc and 71.5 percent from the free throw line.
The Spartans are out-rebounding their opponents by an average margin of +7.3 boards per game (37.6-30.3).
MEMPHIS VERSUS THE BIG TEN
The Tigers have a 16-18 record (.471 winning percentage) versus current members of the Big Ten Conference.
The last time Memphis played a Big Ten foe was earlier this season at the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, The Bahamas. The Tigers dropped an 84-75 decision to Minnesota in the tournament's consolation semifinal round.
Memphis has played 11 of the 12 Big Ten schools. The only Big Ten hoops program the Tigers have not faced is Northwestern.
The last Tigers' victory over a Big Ten foe came in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Memphis defeated Michigan State 92-74 in an NCAA Tournament South Region semifinal en route to NCAA title game.
The Last Meeting
March 28, 2008
Memphis Routs Michigan State, 92-74
The mighty Memphis Tigers defeated Michigan State and embarrassed all those naysayers who suggested they were the most suspect of the top seeds in this year's NCAA tournament.
Memphis and Michigan State have played one common opponent in 2012-13 and the following shows those results:
75-84, L (N)
63-76, L (A)
61-50, H (W)
A 2001 FIBA U19 REUNION
Memphis' Joe Jackson and Michigan State's Keith Appling were teammates on USA Basketball's U19 squad that played in the FIBA World Championships in the summer of 2011.
The USA U19 squad recorded a 7-2 record and placed fifth at the FIBA World Championships.
Jackson started all nine games in the tournament and averaged 11.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He shot 44.8 percent from the floor and 77.8 percent from the free throw line.
Appling saw action in all nine contests and averaged 4.1 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He shot 40.6 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the free throw line.
IT'S AN (NCAA) RING THING
When Memphis meets Michigan State Saturday, both benches can claim NCAA championship rings.
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 Michigan State, it's head coach Tom Izzo, who guided the Spartans to the 2000 NCAA championship.
A TIE THAT BINDS
For those fans that watch college hoops, they know of Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo's friendship with former NFL head coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci.
Both were student-athletes at Northern Michigan, and on numerous occasions, Steve has been shown by the television cameras sitting with Izzo's family at Spartans games.
Well, the Tigers also will have a Mariucci on its side in the crowd Saturday.
Steve's son, Tyler, joined the Tiger Scholarship Fund, the fund-raising arm of the Memphis Athletics Department, last summer. Tyler's position is Assistant Athletics Director for Major Gifts.
MEMPHIS VERSUS NCAA FIELD; TIGERS' NCAA FOES PERFECT
So, the experts may still knock the Tigers' 2012-13 schedule. But, Thursday's results tell a different story.
Memphis' 2012-13 opponents that made the NCAA Tournament -- Harvard, Louisville, Minnesota and VCU -- went a perfect 3-0 in Thursday's tourney action. Minnesota plays Friday.
The Tigers went 1-3 against NCAA Tournament teams on their schedule in 2012-13.
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.
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 four NCAA Tournaments as a No. 6 seed in 1984, 1992, 1995 and 2013, Memphis has posted an 8-3 record (.727 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 is playing in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region.
Including this year, the Tigers were Midwest Region participants in 1956, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1992, 1995 and 2013.
Memphis' NCAA Tournament record when it begins in the Midwest Region is 17-9 (.654 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.
TIGERS' WINNING WAYS ON THE ROAD
Yes, The Palace at Auburn Hills will go down as a neutral site for Saturday's game. But, let's not kid ourselves, as The Palace will provide a big homecourt advantage for the Spartans.
The Palace is only 75 miles (1.5 hour drive) from the Michigan State campus in East Lansing, Mich.
However, the Tigers have done quite well in road games in 2012-13.
Despite its late-season loss at Xavier Feb. 26, Memphis finished 2012-13 with a 9-1 road record (.900 winning percentage).
Prior to the setback, the Tigers were the nation's last team with an undefeated road record.
Prior to the Feb. 26 loss, Memphis also had the nation's longest road win streak at 11 straight.
The Tigers' record away from FedExForum road and neutral combined is 14-3 (.824 winning percentage).
For the sixth time in school history, the Tigers have won 30 games in a season. Memphis enters the NCAA Tournament third round with a 31-4 record. The following lists the 30-win teams in school history:
*Tied NCAA record for most wins, single season
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 77-26 record (.748 winning percentage) when playing in March. The Tigers' record is even better in March since 2004-05, as they are 58-15 (.795 winning percentage).
The Tigers are 19-5 (.792 winning percentage) in March under Josh Pastner.
IT'S A BLOCK PARTY
The Tigers went crazy in swatting shots in their NCAA Tournament second-round victory over Saint Mary's Thursday.
Memphis blocked a school NCAA Tournament-record 12 shots versus the Gaels.
The 6-foot-5 forward's -- yes, 6-foot-5 forward -- eight blocked shots were a career best.
Stephens, the 2012-13 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year -- has 91 blocks, which are tied for the fourth-most in a season in school history.
JACKSON JOINS TIGERS ELITE GROUP
In the Jan. 30 win over East Carolina, Joe Jackson went over 1,000 points for his career with a career-high 26 points.
In the Feb. 13 victory over UCF, the 6-foot-1 guard dished out a career-best 10 assists, and in doing so, went over 350 dimes for his career.
Jackson now has 1,197 points and 410 assists for his career. He is in the No. 27 spot on the Tigers all-time scoring list and No. 8 position on the career assists chart.
The Memphis, Tenn., native is the ninth player in Memphis hoops history to have 1,000 points and 350 assists:
In 2012-13, Memphis has a 10-3 record in single-digit games and a 5-1 mark in games decided by five or fewer points.
Last season, Memphis was 6-7 in single-digit outcome games and 4-5 in games decided by five or fewer points.
Overall, Josh Pastner'steams have a 39-20 record (.661 winning percentage) in games decided by single digits.
Pastner's Close Calls Record
5 Pts or Fewer
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 124 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 13 games (since Southern Miss Feb. 9), Memphis has assisted on 254 of its 380 made field goals for an incredible assists percentage of 66.8. During the 13-game stretch, the Tigers have had six 20-assist games.
For the season, Memphis has assisted on 597 of its 957 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 597 assists are the fourth-most for a season in Tigers history.
The following breaks down the Tigers' assists parade the last 13 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.
A lot of talk in head coach Josh Pastner's first three seasons centered about rebounding and the Tigers' frustration in that area.
It looks as if that's been corrected this season.
Memphis is out-rebounding its opponents by an average margin of +4.7 boards per game (37.7-33.0), which is second in Conference USA.
In C-USA games only (16 contests), the Tigers' rebound margin was +7.5 boards per game (39.2-31.7), which led the league.
The following shows how the Tigers have done on the glass in Pastner's tenure:
Bahamas, UofL, UT
Maui, UofL, UT, XU
Miami, KU, Gonzaga
KU, UT, Syracuse
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 106-33.
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).