first trip to the NCAA tournament as a head coach will have an extra special
meaning when his 12th seeded Tigers take on his alma mater, the Wildcats.
Game time is set for 2:45 PM ET from the BOK
Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Wildcats and Tigers are in the West
Region where Duke is the No. 1 seed. Arizona is back in tournament after a
one-year absence while Memphis is ‘dancing’ for the fifth time in six years
Arizona’s No. 5 seed is its best since 2005,
when it was a No. 3. This will be the ‘Cats 25th appearance in the
NCAA tournament in 26 years and they’ve got one national title (1997) and four
Final Four appearances. Memphis will be making its 22nd trip to the
Dance and will be after its fourth Final Four visit.
Wildcats (27-7 SU & 17-14-1 ATS)
Arizona Wildcats, the regular-season Pac-10 champion,
fell in overtime, 77-75, to Washington on Saturday on a last-second shot in the
conference championship game. The Wildcats have been pretty much a one man gang
led by Pac-10 player of the year Derrick Williams who is averaging team highs
of 19.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game; no other Arizona player is averaging
in double digits in scoring.
The Wildcats are averaging 76.5 points per
game and are allowing 67.5 Arizona is the 10th best 3-point shooting
team in the country (39.9%) and are 5th in guarding the trey (28%).
Overall, this is a favorable opening game for
the Wildcats and that’s even before you consider Arizona’s edge in coaching
experience with Sean Miller going
Tigers (25-9 SU & 12-17-2 ATS)
The Memphis Tigers earned an automatic tournament bid
on Saturday after defeating UTEP, 67-66, in the Conference USA championship in
El Paso. It was the Tigers 14th win in 15 games decided by five or fewer points
and their fifth C-USA title in six seasons. It’s the first for Pastner who was
a walk-on player at Arizona and later spent six seasons as a full-time assistant
under Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who retired in 2008.
Memphis had four-freshman on the floor during
crunch time against UTEP; Joe Jackson, Will Barton, Chris Crawford and Tarik
Black. Jackson, the tournament MVP, had 17 points while Crawford added 15.
Overall Barton at 12.3 points per game is the only Memphis player averaging in
double figures. The Tigers put up 72 points and surrender 68.1 per game.
They’re one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country (32.7%) and they’ll
be matched up against Arizona’s
excellent 3-point shooting defense.
For the first time since its formation in the
1995-96 season Conference USA went winless in the tourney last year. The C-USA is
currently on a 1-5 first-round skid.
Are the Odds?
Sportsbooks in Las Vegas have made Ohio State
a 7/2 favorite to win the NCAA tournament despite a tough draw that includes North
Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky in the same bracket. The other No. 1 seeds,
Kansas and Duke, are each 5-1 to win the tournament.
the 12th seed
If you're familiar with the NCAA tournament, then
you’re keenly aware No. 12 seeds are the main targets for players in search of
an early-round upset, and with good reason. In only three of the past 26 years
have No. 12 seeds failed to win a Round-of-64 game. Cornell was the only No. 12
to win last year, but the Big Red advanced to the Sweet 16, making it nine of
the past 10 years that 12-seeds have combined to win at least two games.
Harvey’s Take: I’ll go with the
more experienced coach and team in this one. Pastner’s been a great story and
all, but Miller’s a proven ‘dancer’ with one of the top individual players in
the tournament. Lay the lumber and take the Wildcats.