Most fans are preparing for the college football season, which is right around the corner. But, college basketball is just two months away and it is never too early to get a head start looking at what the upcoming season has in store. Current ESPN NCAA basketball analyst and former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg recently published his power rankings for the American Athletic Conference for 2013-2014.
Coming in at the top spot, of course, was the Louisville Cardinals. There could have been some debate for the No. 2 slot, but Greenberg made the right choice with the Memphis Tigers over the Cincinnati Bearcats and Connecticut Huskies.
Coming into head coach Josh Pastner‘s fifth year, the Tigers are on the cusp of elite status once again. The cupboard at guard has never been more stacked during his time and the frontcourt is filling up quickly. Memphis is returning senior guards Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson, all of whom can take over a game at the drop of a dime, and brings in some very talented newcomers in swing man Kuran Iverson, Markel Crawford and Nick King.
Two of the new guards eligibility for the season are still pending in senior Missouri transfer Michael Dixon and freshman RaShawn “Pookie” Powell. Dixon is a former Big XII Sixth Man of the Year and would make the Tigers backcourt awfully scary if he is granted eligibility. Powell was a prolific scorer in the Florida high school scene and would be another weapon, as if Memphis needs any more.
Perhaps the main reason the Tigers were behind Louisville in the power rankings was because Pastner answered the question marks in the low post in a big way during the offseason. The big glaring weakness for Memphis last season was their lack of a dominant big man and depth at the position. Memphis basically had just two low-post players that were effective with Tarik Black and Shaq Goodwin. Yes, they had D.J. Stephens, but at 6-5, he was not a true post player.
Goodwin played admirably at times, but was much too inconsistent, which can be expected for a freshman. Black never played to his potential and made the Tigers extremely thin down low when he opted to transfer to the Kansas Jayhawks earlier in the offseason.
It mattered not though, as Pastner landed senior George Washington transfer David Pellom, a solid rebounder and post scorer, and 6-foot-10, 290-pound four-star Dominic Woodson, who is a load to handle. Add on top of that athletic five-star Austin Nichols, and Memphis appears to be right on the heels of Louisville.
Last year’s NCAA Tournament win was a breakthrough for Pastner, as it was his first since he became the head coach. This is the year that the Tigers could make a serious run in March. Louisville is the reigning national champion and they are rightfully so the team to beat in the AAC. But expect Memphis to have something to say about that when it is all said and done. The Tigers are a true dark horse to win it all.