2011 College Basketball: Memphis Predictions and Tigers Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 11/8/2011
Following John Calipari at Memphis wasn’t an easy task, but Josh Pastner is doing a great job thus far. Pastner continues to bring in high-level recruits, and the team is really buying into his system.
The Tigers finished fourth in Conference USA during the regular season last year, but they made the NCAA Tournament thanks to a miraculous comeback victory in the Conference USA Tournament Championship Game. The Tigers put up a great fight, but they lost in the final seconds of the opening game in the NCAA Tournament against Arizona.
Last year’s group was very young, and this squad will definitely have some more experience heading into this season.
2011-12 Memphis Tigers College Basketball Outlook
The Tigers didn’t finish in the Top 25 last season, but they are ranked ninth in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Memphis has won 20 or more games in 11 consecutive seasons.
The strength of this Memphis team starts with their depth in the backcourt.
Joe Jackson was inconsistent in his freshman year as the Tigers point guard, but at the end of the season he was starting to show why he was such a highly-touted recruit. Jackson started at the point guard for the USA U19 team that went 7-2 in the FIBA World Championship this past summer.
Will Barton will start in the backcourt alongside Jackson. Barton was the team’s leading scorer last season, and he is great at creating his own shot.
Chris Crawford was the team’s best distributer of the basketball, and he is a great defender as well. Antonio Barton and Charles Carmouche will also see plenty of playing time in the backcourt.
Tarik Black had an impressive freshman season for the Tigers last year. Black is a 6-foot-8 forward who entered Memphis as a borderline Top-50 recruit, but NBA scouts now have him pegged as a likely first round draft pick. Black shot 53 percent from the floor last year, and he is a force on the boards. In addition, Black swatted away 1.6 shots per contest last year.
Wesley Witherspoon will be counted on for some senior leadership, and he is a solid all-around wing. Stan Simpson is a 6-10 transfer from Illinois who should see some time at the center spot this year.
Memphis Tigers Basketball Additions/Losses
The Tigers return 89 percent of last season’s minutes, so they return most of their key players from last year’s squad. Will Coleman and Angel Garcia are the only two players missing from last year’s team. Memphis will need to replace some solid rebounding and shot blocking, but they aren’t losing much on the offensive end.
Pastner locked down another huge recruit from inside the city of Memphis for this season. Adonis Thomas is ranked in the Top 10 nationally by almost all of the recruiting services. Thomas is highly praised for his tremendous work ethic on and off the court. He had a 4.0 grade point average in high school. Thomas is an electrifying player who will fit right into the team’s fast-paced style of play.
2011-12 Memphis Basketball Schedule
Memphis will definitely be tested early on this year. The Tigers are playing in the Maui Invitational, where they could face teams such as Michigan, Duke, and Tennessee.
The Tigers have road trips to Miami, Louisville, and Georgetown in December. Expect the team’s battles with UCF inside Conference USA to be a tough test. The Tigers close out conference play with a trip to Tulsa on March 3.
2011-2012 Memphis Tigers Futures Odds
The Tigers are getting a solid amount of respect from the books this year. BetOnline lists Memphis at +2,200 to win the NCAA Championship. Most books put the Tigers odds of winning it all somewhere between +2,000 and +3,000 this season.
2011-2012 Memphis Predictions for College Basketball
This team was a big disappointment during the regular season last year, but I think they’ll be much better this year. Last year’s recruiting class was one of the Top 3 in the nation. This backcourt will be hard for anyone to stop, and I think they’ll dominate inside Conference USA. Thomas should be the perfect complement to this young athletic team.
Memphis struggled on the offensive end much of last year, but they played solid defense all year long. The defense should be even better this season, and the offense is almost certain to come around as these young stars mature.
Look for this Tigers team to win the regular season Conference USA title this year. I’m expecting the Tigers to enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed. Look for Memphis to advance to the Sweet 16 this year.
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