(Again, thanks to George for the story link, ed.)
Men's basketball: Memphis it is
Mean Green to face Tigers in New Orleans in NCAA Tournament
08:20 AM CDT on Monday, March 12, 2007
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
North Texas won’t face the top team in the nation in its first NCAA Tournament game since 1988 on Friday, just the hottest one.
The Mean Green sweated out each No. 16 seed that was announced during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday afternoon and avoided being placed in the first-round game for the right to play in the Round of 64.
Instead, the Mean Green will face Memphis, which owns the nation’s longest winning streak at 22 games. The fifth-ranked Tigers have not lost a game since falling to Arizona on Dec. 20.
“Memphis is a good basketball team,” UNT senior guard Kendrick Davis said. “They swept Conference USA. I have watched them all year. I like their style of play. It will be a tough game for us.”
Memphis is the No. 2 seed in the South Region, while UNT is the No. 15 seed.
UNT is 2-0 against Conference USA teams this year after beating Tulsa and Rice in the early stages of the season. There is little doubt that Memphis will be a much tougher opponent for the Mean Green.
Memphis (30-3) went 16-0 in C-USA to win the conference title and also won the league’s postseason tournament behind a high-scoring offense. The Tigers are ranked No. 9 nationally with an average of 80.1 points a game.
Sophomore guard Chris Douglas-Roberts leads Memphis with an average of 15.4 points a game.
UNT (23-10) also likes to run in the open floor and ranks No. 30 nationally with an average of 77.5 points a game.
“It will be a really good game,” said UNT senior guard Calvin Watson, who leads UNT with an average of 15.8 points a game. “It will be an up-and-down game. Memphis is a great team with a great program over there. We are going to go out there and play our best. We have a great group of guys and know what we are capable of.”
The fact that UNT is still playing with the NCAA Tournament about to begin is somewhat of a surprise. The Mean Green entered the Sun Belt Conference tournament as the No. 5 seed, but went on a four-game run through the event that culminated with a win over Arkansas State in the championship game.
UNT has won five straight games.
“Johnny has done a great job at North Texas. Just a terrific job,” Memphis coach John Calipari told the Associated Press. “He’s got good players. They shoot the ball well, and were going to have to perform. I’m not worried about the whole bracket. Let’s just get that game. Let’s worry about what we are doing from there and move on if we can.”
UNT will need to be at its best against Memphis to extend its season. Since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, only four No. 15 seeds have won their first-round game.
The last time a No. 15 seed pulled off a first-round upset was in 2001 when Hampton beat Iowa State.
UNT was also a No. 15 seed in its last NCAA Tournament appearance, when it fell to North Carolina in Salt Lake City, 83-65.
The Mean Green was projected to be a No. 15 or 16 seed before the tournament selection show began.
“You never know in this game how things will turn out,” UNT junior guard Michael Sturns said. “We are just grateful for the opportunity to go and play Memphis. We are going to give it all we’ve got.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
TALE OF THE TAPE
UNT Vs. Memphis
23-10 Record 30-3
#15 Tourney seed #2
77.5 Points per game 80.1
#128 RPI (realtimerpi.com) #8
2 NCAA tournament trips 20
Sun Belt Conference C-USA