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Thursday, March 01, 2007

El Paso Times "Memphis Aims For Top Tourney Seed"

Memphis aims for top tourney seed
Bret Bloomquist / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 03/01/2007 12:29:59 PM MST

As the final two weeks tick down on Selection Sunday, some familiar names have floated to the top of the discussion for the No. 1 seeds.
Kansas, Florida, Ohio State, Wisconsin, UCLA, North Carolina -- the bluebloods of college basketball --are all there.

So where is Memphis? Where is the team that comes to El Paso with the longest winning streak in the nation (17 games), a No. 6 ranking and a No. 8 RPI?

Why isn't a team that earned a No. 1 seed last year and has a 25-3 record part of this discussion?

That's a good way to make coach John Calipari scratch his head. In fact, he sounds worried his team isn't going to get a No. 2 seed.

"I just don't want it to become more propoganda, because the more it's said the more it becomes believable," he told the USA Today in a Tuesday cover story. "You don't think our guys are watching TV and hearing they should be a 4-seed or 5-seed?

"You don't want opinions to become propaganda. You don't have a sequestered group picking these seeds, and the tournament is all about seeding, believe me."

The problem, is of course, Conference USA, which has no clear second-best team, no teams other than Memphis receiving a single vote in either poll, and has slipped to No. 11 in the conference RPI ratings.

Memphis hasn't played a rank ed team since Christmas, though it did win at Gonzaga last week.

Calipari thinks the C-USA bashing is unfair.

"People don't want to accept this, but our league has gotten stronger than it was a year ago," he said in the USA Today article. "Six teams moved up 50 or more (places) in the RPI."

At any rate, Memphis appears to be in prime position to do something about its image in the NCAA tournament, which could actually position it to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country next year.

Consider that the Tigers only have one senior getting significant playing time -- sixth man Jeremy Hunt -- and starts three sophomores and a freshman.

"We're deep, and that helps us," sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said after Sunday's comeback victory against Houston. "Eventually, a team that is not as deep as us will get worn out because we're constantly running up and down."

Lately, most of the running has been right up the national rankings.

Bret Bloomquist may be reached at; 546-6359.

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