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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Toughest game of the year?

Toughest game of the year?
Posted by Dan Wolken

A number of people have asked me over the last few weeks which game on the Tigers’ schedule will provide their first loss of the season. My answer was never Georgetown — in fact, I predicted a Memphis win on this blog some time ago — but rather Saturday’s game against Arizona. Keep in mind, I’m not predicting that Memphis will lose. But I think it’s the toughest and most dangerous game of the year for a variety of reasons.

1. The “Letdown” effect. Quite simply, it will be difficult if not impossible for the Tigers to bring the same kind of emotion and intensity Saturday that they brought to the Georgetown game. It’s human nature. Especially in college sports, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint when a team will have a letdown. There was such a rush of emotion and satisfaction in beating Georgetown, John Calipari will have a huge task on his hands trying to get the Tigers to get back “up” once again, no matter who the opponent is.

2. Style of play. It will be interesting to see what Arizona tries to do against the Tigers. But in last year’s game, the Wildcats were certainly comfortable getting up and down the court with Memphis. Unlike Georgetown, Arizona has the personnel to play fast and win a game in the 80s.

3. The Killer B’s. The Tigers are a great defensive team. But with guys like Chase Budinger and Jerryd Bayless, you can play good defense and they can still make crazy fallaway jumpers in late shot clock situations. Budinger is a really tough matchup and as pure of a catch-and-shoot guy as you’ll find.

4. Tested team. Even though Georgetown is a top-10 team, I’m not sure the Hoyas were really prepared to play a team like Memphis since their non-conference schedule had been pretty light to that point. Arizona is a different animal. They took Kansas to overtime at Kansas (Arizona really should have won the game in regulation), beat Texas A&M at home, beat Illinois in Chicago and got a nice road win at UNLV. They won’t be shaken by the crowd or by the opponent.

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2007 at 1:34 pm

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