College basketball has seen a transfer of power over the past few years. Powerhouses have lost the top recruits to smaller schools, and every team with at least one talented player has a genuine shot of making a deep NCAA Tournament run. Between the transfer portal and the format of the NCAA Tournament, any team can surprise you with a quick turnaround.
Last year, UCLA went from one of the worst teams in the NCAA Tournament pool to the Final Four. The NCAA Tournament before that saw Auburn shock us all with a deep postseason run. Now, everyone wants to figure out who that next team is.
A popular NCAAB pick this season is the Memphis Tigers. It’s clear to see why. They have all the pieces to be a solid team, and they are still flying under the radar.
The NCAAB odds list the Tigers at +1800 to win the title this year. They have a genuine shot of making the Final Four with their current roster, and here are three reasons why it could happen.
The Influx of Talent
In college basketball, it doesn’t take much talent to change your fortune. It can flip with a single recruiting class. If that were to ever happen, it would be this year with the Memphis Tigers.
Memphis won the NIT last year, and they bring back plenty of veterans from last year’s squad. You could look at this talent and assume that they would have a solid roster and improve on last year’s record. However, they have one of the best-recruiting classes in college basketball history thanks to some reclassifications.
Emoni Bates decided to leave high school a year early to join the Memphis Tigers. This alone would be a good reason to celebrate. However, he will be joined by Jalen Duren. This is one of the best tandems in college basketball next year. Their games complement each other well, and they will be hard to stop on both sides of the ball.
Memphis had a solid class before this, and the transfers joining the team are no scrubs. Now, it is clear that this roster is significantly better than the one that won the NIT last year.
Penny Hardaway Is a Great Coach
Over the past few seasons, we’ve seen a change in the process of hiring head coaches. Teams used to look for experienced coaches that worked with other legends. Now, they are willing to take risks on former players. Michigan hired Juwan Howard, Patrick Ewing went to coach at Georgetown, Alabama gave Avery Johnson a shot a few years ago, and Penny Hardaway is in charge at Memphis.
It’s easy to see why this option is intriguing. Picking a former NBA star validates the program. It helps with recruiting because they know what it takes to make it to the next level. Their basketball knowledge is unquestionable, and they have that winning drive that you need to succeed.
Hardaway has been a great coach since joining the Tigers. His recruiting ability is unmatched, and he can develop the talent on the roster. He’s proof that former players can be great coaches, and it helps Memphis’s odds of making a deep NCAA Tournament run.
Memphis is going to be fun to watch this year, and Hardaway deserves credit for their success. If they make it to the Final Four, he will be a big reason why.
The Parity in College Basketball
At this point, Memphis seems to be a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. After that, it just comes down to how you play in the wildest environment you can imagine. Games are happening every day, and everyone is fighting for their lives. One play can make you a legend, and every team has an equal shot of winning the title.
This causes craziness, and we’ve seen it in the past. So, what do you need in order to be able to succeed in these scenarios? It helps if you are versatile. That way, you can win in a variety of ways. No matter who your opponent is, you have a chance to respond.
Memphis will have versatility thanks to their insane recruiting class. If they stay healthy, few teams will have an answer for both Bates and Duren. That’s what will set them apart in a volatile NCAA Tournament.