Memphis Tiger fans are ready for the college basketball season. Some are eager to see the quality of the team. The ones who are not fans are saying “Has Pastner lost his mind by scheduling a tough schedule?” Pastner doesn’t think so at all.
The Tigers are now in the American Athletic Conference and it will be a battle for Memphis. They will go up against two teams that are ranked in Sporting News’ preseason top 25 (No. 3 Louisville and No. 22 UConn). Six more are against three teams that could be a lock for the NCAA Tournament (Cincinnati, SMU, and South Florida).
In all honesty, Pastner didn’t need a tough non-conference schedule. They are playing in a tough conference already. People may not like it but he did it anyway. Tigers will play at Oklahoma State (No. 10 this preseason by Sporting News), against No. 12 Florida at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden and at home against No. 17 Gonzaga. Memphis will also participate in the Old Spice Classic in November. Experts are saying that the Tigers and Oklahoma State could meet for a second time in the championship game.
ESPN.com currently has Memphis ranked No. 2 behind Kansas for the toughest non-conference schedule. Pastner doesn’t mind the competition; he’s ready to put his players to the test.
“We got a heck of a non-conference schedule,” said Pastner. “I think it’s great. It’s what we need.”
“We have four senior guards. I thought it would help us early to know where we are and what we’ve got to do to get better as we move forward. We’ve got to be ready for our conference schedule, and this will give us a great test of our strengths and weaknesses early and often.”
The seniors will be the focal point for the Tigers this season. Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Geron Johnson and Michael Dixon are expected to be leaders. They will have to live up to the hype since CBSSports.com has them as the No. 1 backcourt in the country. Louisville, Oklahoma State, Gonzaga, and UConn are ranked in the websites’ top six.
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.