The Memphis Tigers appear to have the talent to have a fun first season in the American Athletic Conference under coach Josh Pastner. The Tigers are coming off a 31-5 record from last year and 16-0 Conference USA. The Tigers had the best defense last season in terms of points allowed per possession in the league.
They should be even better this year. For the Tigers, it starts with their two outstanding power forwards in Austin Nichols, ranked by one service as the 15th best player in the 2013 recruiting class and Shaq Goodwin, who was ranked No. 31 in the 2012 class. Joe Jackson, 6-1 senior guard, and Chris Crawford, a 6-4 guard, give the Tigers excitement in the back court and for good reason, considering their junior seasons. Preseason polls have ranked the Tigers as high as 13 and it would appear, on paper, they deserve that billing. They’ll obviously have to earn the rest. Jackson was the USA’s player of the year last season and Crawford the conference’s sixth Man of the Year. Pastner was the league’s coach of the year.
Jackson shot 46 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from the three-point arc last season while averaging 11.6 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds, and is a threat to the other side for steals and blocked shots. The same applies to Crawford, who’s averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his career.
This season look for the Tigers to be conference champs, although not undefeated, and go to the Elite Eight, before falling short of making the Final Four by one game.