Analyzing the Tiger analysts
Before I go any further, I want to issue a disclaimer: The following is not an argument about where Memphis should be ranked, where Memphis should be seeded or how good Memphis is.
Rather, I want to comment on what I’ve been hearing, mainly on local talk radio, about the Tigers. Most of it is shallow mimicry, people saying the same intellectually lazy things over and over again about the Tigers’ schedule, Conference USA, the losses to Georgia Tech, Arizona and Tennessee, etc.
The problem is, what you hear is two-dimensional analysis about an incredibly multi-dimensional sport. I can guarantee, in a month these same people will be talking about how it baffles the mind that some No. 7 seed made a deep run while some No. 1 or No. 2 seed lost early.
But this is the difficulty in analyzing college basketball. In my opinion, there is no sport where there are more variables that can impact the outcome of every game. Then, you get to the NCAA Tournament, and some of those variables are suddenly eliminated and others are altered, which is why there are so many seemingly shocking upsets.
For instance, the Tigers’ 18-point loss to Tennessee is the one that seems to be held against them more than any of their three losses. But it's a completely irrelevant result in trying to determine how the Tigers will perform in the NCAA Tournament (or the Vols, for that matter), and I can make that argument without even talking about where the game was played.
Here's the argument: Tennessee played a Dec. 1 game against Murray State, then had five days to prepare for Memphis on Dec. 6. In that time span, Memphis played Manhattan on Dec. 2, Marshall on Dec. 4, then had to travel to Knoxville on Dec. 5. No matter how good Memphis is, Tennessee was going to be far more prepared, far better rested and far more mentally ready for a big game.
In an NCAA Tournament scenario, both teams travel the same day. Both teams are playing at an unfamiliar arena. Both teams have had essentially the same amount of rest time. Many of the factors that can impact how a game is played are thus taken out of the equation.
Did Chris Douglas-Roberts’ stomach virus impact the way the Arizona game was played? Absolutely. If there were rematches, would Doneal Mack’s emergence impact the way every game in November and December was played? Absolutely.
To what degree, I couldn’t say. Nobody could. The point is, in college basketball, past results are often a poor predictor of future results since the circumstances are constantly changing.
This is not to say that the outcomes of games aren’t important. The past performances are important for the purposes of getting into the NCAA Tournament and seeding. But the truth is, we can talk about it all we want, but there is only one opinion that matters. And that’s the opinion of the 10 people in Indianapolis who put together that bracket.
You and I can discuss what factors we think are important or where different teams should be seeded. And after the bracket is released, you’ll hear plenty of people screaming into microphones about injustices and travesties. But the truth is, if the Tigers come out as a No. 2 seed, you have to accept it because that’s what the committee says they are. And the same thing holds true if they get a No. 5 seed. All the other analysis is useless.