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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

16-and-0? Cal doesn't think so - From the Memphis Edge

16-and-0? Cal doesn't think so

John Calipari had a message for those of you who think Memphis is going to go 16-0 in Conference USA this year: No way.

"Last year, I had a basketball team that had numbers -- field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, rebounding margin," Calipari said. "And after we played Duke, UCLA and all those people, we went into the league and all those numbers got worse. Our shooting percentage went down, which means they guarded us better. Their shooting percentage went up, which means they played against us better.

"They know us better. It’s harder. To go in and say you’re going to win every road game, come on. We’re not winning every game this year. We’re not going to. Are we going to try to? Yes, we’re going to try to, but you don’t go through a league undefeated. You just don’t. There’s too many rivals, too much road stuff."

I think this is worth discussing. Obviously, if we're just talking talent, Memphis probably should go 16-0 this year. C-USA has been pretty bad, and it's hard to envision which game(s) Memphis might lose, aside from perhaps at Houston or at UAB.

But I've seen enough college basketball to agree with Cal on this issue.

It's so, so rare for a team to go through conference play unbeaten, and even the ones that do have games against weaker teams that inexplicably come down to the wire. For example, think of how many games Gonzaga had to pull out in the final seconds last year in the WCC against far inferior teams.

I think 14-2 is a reasonable expectation for Memphis. Anything worse than that, the Tigers will be hard-pressed to get a good NCAA seed. At 14-2 or better, Memphis should get no worse than a No. 6 seed.

by Dan Wolken

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