By far the most exciting match-up to watch should be the game between Memphis and Missouri. When the seedings came out, and I saw that the Mizzou Tigers were a three seed, I was stunned. I had been keeping an eye on them all year. I saw them beat Kansas and Oklahoma at home, but I also saw them get flattened by the very same Jayhawks a month later. Nonetheless, they have come out of the gate ready to play and have not disappointed. As for Memphis, I was surprised that they were not given a number one seed, though my guess is that the commitee decided UConn's strength of schedule gave them a better argument than Memphis' in-conference wins. This game will feature two teams that utilize the "40 minutes of hell" tempo on both sides of the ball, so we should see scores in at least the high 70's. Ultimately the keys will be these to determine the winner:
- Can Missouri keep up with Memphis in the first half?
- Can either team's full-court trap defense be succesful?
- Can Memphis hold off Missouri's strong second-half surges?
Ultimately, I think Memphis will win this game. This is no knock on the lovable Missouri Tigers, but I do not think that they have a defensive answer for freshman phenom Tyreke Evans, or for Memphis' staggering depth in the front-court. Missouri has two main scoring outlets in Demarre Carroll and Leo Lyons, both of whom have played very well all year, but unless they get help from everyone else, I don't think Mizzou will pull out a win. I think Missouri will make it more of an entertaining game than most people think it will be, but barring any Memphis meltdowns, Missouri will be heading home after Thursday's game.