On Friday afternoon, the Memphis Tigers picked up a hard fought 71-66 victory over the George Washington Colonials, and they now advance on to the Round of 32. While in most instances any victory in the NCAA tournament will be one that leaves room for encouragement, Memphis has little reason to believe a victory will be possible against the Virginia Cavaliers.
During the game against George Washington, it appeared that Memphis more outlasted their opponents than actually beat them through pure skill. Only Michael Dixon Jr. could be described as a dominant force on the night, and when you take out his contributions, the Tigers shot 45.7 percent from the field, 21 percent on three point field goals, 54.5 percent on free throws, and only scored 52 points. Furthermore, and possibly more importantly, the rest of the team generally seemed to be lacking in offensive impetus, and benefited from the Colonials’ inability to convert from the free throw line, or shooting the ball at all.
It should be made clear that Memphis was never expected to go out and dominate their opponents, but most onlookers did expect them to have a more varied and effective offensive unit. After all this is what they prided themselves on for the entirety of the season, as the Tigers ranked 23rd in the nation in field goal percentage, 35th in points scored per game and ranked 182nd in points per game against.
A mix of an offense that seems to be slowing down at the wrong time and a defense that has never been known as a juggernaut is huge reason to worry against Virginia, as this plays right to their skill set. Virginia is arguably the best defensive team in nation, and after watching them limit ranked opponents to 56.7 points per game this season, it is obvious that they will attempt to engage Memphis in a defensive battle.
There is little doubting that Memphis will not be prepared or properly equipped to go into this type of match, and their best option moving forward will have to be that Virginia simply forgets that they have to score the basketball. Barring this catastrophic occurrence, it appears that the Tigers have positioned themselves for an early exit from the NCAA tournament, and that this victory over George Washington will have to suffice for a victory parade.