The drought is finally over. The Memphis Tigers are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014. Despite losing 71-53 against Houston in the AAC championship game, the Tigers were a lock to qualify for the tournament. Their 10-1 record to close out the regular season was enough to impress the selection committee. Memphis will play in the West region and face a familiar team in the Boise State Broncos. Other notable programs included in the West region are Gonzaga, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Michigan State. Let’s break down how everything could turn out for the Memphis Tigers once the NCAA tournament begins.
8 Boise State: A Familiar Face
The last time the Memphis Tigers faced the Boise State Broncos, they came out on top 59-56 in the NIT tournament. The Tigers’ most formidable challenge was during the NIT tournament last season was against the Broncos. Like Memphis, Boise State has experienced an NCAA tournament drought as well. The Broncos last appeared in the tournament in 2015. Even though they have qualified for the tournament on multiple occasions, they have yet to win a game.
Boise State has a record of 0-7 in March Madness action, having suffered a one-point loss to the Dayton Flyers in their most recent appearance. The Broncos finished the 2021-2022 season with a 27-7 record and won the Mountain West’s regular-season and tournament championships. Going into Thursday’s game, Memphis is a 2.5-point favorite to defeat Boise State as of Monday morning. That’s not a large margin at all, and the game can go either way.
The Tigers may have the better overall roster, but the Broncos’ cohesion as a team may be more assertive. That’s where Memphis has struggled at specific points during the regular season. As stated earlier, the Broncos was the Tigers’ most difficult challenge in route to an NIT championship last year. Overall, you can expect Thursday’s game to be a physical battle between two highly effective programs on defense.
Biggest Question: Will Memphis Continue to Play as One Unit Once the Tournament Starts?
Now that the Tigers are finally a part of the 68 teams participating in March Madness, they must maintain what they do best as a program. Memphis cannot go into these games and not play as one unit. The team has played a lot better since their dismal outing against SMU on January 20. On that night, it’s fair to say that Memphis came together as a team and saved their season. They rallied off six-straight wins, which significantly improved their chances of qualifying for the tournament. Those wins were victories against the eventual AAC champion, the Houston Cougars.
Those accolades were achieved because Memphis came together as one unit, and players could operate within their skillset. They need to maintain the same type of intensity once the tournament starts. History has shown us that programs that stick together for at least three to four years, along with solid ball movement, tend to have more success during March Madness.
What Could Possibly Await Memphis if They Get Past Boise State?
A potential matchup against the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be on the horizon if the Memphis Tigers can get past Boise State on Thursday. Gonzaga is the favorite to win the region and return to the Final Four. The Bulldogs are loaded and could do several things to put Memphis away early if they were to play each other next. The outcome of how the Tigers will perform against Boise State could be a forecast of things to come against Gonzaga. There’s a reason why they call it March Madness, but do not expect anything crazy to occur in the Bulldogs matchup against Georgia State on Thursday. Memphis will indeed face Gonzaga as their next opponent. However, the Broncos roster makes Thursday’s matchup interesting on paper.