The wait is almost over. The Memphis Tigers will be returning to an atmosphere that they have not been a part of since 2014 known as March Madness. The Tigers closed out the 2021-2022 regular season campaign on a positive note after winning ten out of their last eleven games. They were able to sweep last year’s stumbling block in the Houston Cougars in both matchups this season. Their impressive output for the last 11 games of the season was enough for the selection committee to choose the Tigers as a participant in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers’ opponent will be a familiar one in the Boise State Broncos. Both programs faced each other in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 NIT Tournament. Memphis defeated Boise State 59-56. The Broncos lineup will be very identical to last year’s NIT squad that faced Memphis. Let’s take a look at how both programs stack up against each other in the 9 Memphis vs. 8 Boise State NCAA tournament preview.
Boise State (27-7, 15-3 Mountain West)
When Boise State started the season 3-4 with a couple of disappointing non-conference losses, a trip to the NCAA tournament was most likely a second thought. The Broncos reacted by winning 14 straight games, going 21-3 after their sluggish start to the number-one see in the Mountain West Conference tournament. They rattled off three more victories, including a close one-point win over San Diego State University to become conference tournament champions.
Memphis (21-10, 13-4 American Athletic Conference)
The Memphis Tigers closed out the regular season on the winning side of things, but it wasn’t always like that initially. During the season, Memphis had a 9-8 record and was on the verge of missing out on the NCAA tournament once again. There were hashtags such as #firePenny and fan outrage on social media platforms, to name a few. The Tigers also battled with a covid-19 outbreak and typical injuries that teams go through once the season begins.
After an embarrassing loss at home to conference opponent the SMU Mustangs, the tournament aspirations seemed to be gone. However, it was the opposite as the Tigers finally lived up to their preseason hype and went on a tear throughout the AAC. They advanced to the final round of the AAC tournament but fell short to the Houston Cougars.
Keys to Victory for Memphis
At tipoff on Thursday afternoon, the Memphis Tigers must be locked in and prepared to play against the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos roster is filled with veteran players, while the Tigers have a combination of young and experienced upperclassmen. Boise State’s 60.8 points per game rank them as the 13th best defensive team in the country, and they’re facing a turnover-prone Memphis team, whose 16.2 turnovers per game is fifth-worst in the nation.
While the Tigers have struggled with ball security in the regular season, they must keep the turnovers to a minimum against Boise State. Committing unnecessary turnovers could lead to easy buckets for a Boise State squad that aims to wear the Tigers out with their defense.
Penny Hardaway must identify potential weak spots in Boise State’s defense that allow players such as Jalen Duren, Tyler Harris, and Landers Nolley ll to become productive on offense. DeAndre Williams must be prepared to deal with Boise State’s power forward and star player Abu Kigab. Kigab is the Broncos’ top scorer and can get baskets when needed. The 6-7, 220-pound senior forward average
14.7 pts per game this season.
Both of these teams are evenly matched. Memphis is projected to be a 2.5 favorite over Boise State, however; the game could swing in any direction. Boise State will make Memphis earn this victory, it will not come easy at all. They are the same Boise State team that Memphis left Denton, Texas with a three-point victory in last year’s quarterfinal round of the NIT. The Tigers’ combination of elite talent and experienced juniors and seniors should be enough to overcome the Broncos’ stingy defense.
Memphis wins 75-71
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