MARCH MADNESS PREVIEW AT MSG: MEMPHIS VS. FLORIDA BATTLE OF TOP 16 TEAMS
The usual suspects have been getting a lot of TV coverage so far this season because they’ve played so many games against each other. You’ve seen quite a bit of Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Kansas…with occasional tastes of Arizona and Louisville thrown in.
A team you haven’t seen much of unless you’re a truly avid basketball fan is MEMPHIS. The #15 Tigers will play the #16 Florida Gators Tuesday Night in Madison Square Garden in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN (following the first game of a Garden doubleheader matching Pittsburgh and Cincinnati).
Memphis has been off the radar because of what has largely been a soft schedule. But, they’ve actually played TWO games against analytics darlings Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are currently #7 in the AP poll…but rank higher than that in some computer metrics. Memphis and Oklahoma State split against each other.
Oklahoma State (-9) beat Memphis 101-80 at home
Memphis (+6) beat Oklahoma State 73-68 in Kissimmee, Florida
That blowout loss for Memphis in Stillwater was pretty nasty. But, there may have been some home cooking involved. Okie State attempted 40 free throws, and shot lights out from three-point land. When the two teams played on a neutral court, Memphis fell behind early but rallied to get revenge. Generally speaking, you should value neutral court assessments when evaluating college teams (unless they’re great on the ROAD, which is rare and very important when you see it happening).
That brings us to tonight. Normally we’d run a comparison of what the two TV teams have done against their best opponents. We basically just did that for Memphis! It’s been a string of cupcakes accept for a 7-point win over LSU as favorites of -3.5 in that event in Kissimmee. And, with Florida, we did that last week when they were playing host to Kansas. We can at least update that listing.
FLORIDA VS. QUALITY
Florida (+5.5) lost at Wisconsin 59-53
Florida (-8.5) beat Florida State 67-66 in Gainesville
Florida (+4) lost at Connecticut 65-64
Florida (-3) beat Kansas 67-62
We spent a lot of time last year talking about how overrated Florida was. They didn’t perform well outside of their home state…then they were gifted a very easy Dance card until they ran into Michigan and got waxed. This year’s team is impressing us much more, even with those road losses. They weren’t outclassed at Wisconsin or Connecticut by any means, and were very unlucky to have lost that game at UCONN.
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You probably watched last week’s game with Kansas. Anyone reading a college hoops NOTEBOOK preview in December is an avid fan! They acquitted themselves well in that challenge against a national power, justifying their role as pointspread favorite in that game.
Memphis/Florida is shaping up as a fascinating game because both could make serious runs in March. The polls currently rate them as Sweet 16 caliber. But…we’ve all seen already that many of the projected super-teams have shown some vulnerability. Duke has two losses. Kansas and Kentucky already have THREE losses. If the overhyped teams continue their inconsistency, then it’s this next rung of teams like Memphis and Florida who may be there to rush into the breach.
Keep that in mind as you watch this game on ESPN. If you’d like to win some money Tuesday Night, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for the best plays on the board! Memphis/Florida might be in the final mix. It’s too early to report that as we post this preview online. Get the final word on our purchase page and have your credit card handy.
If you have any questions about basketball or football, talk to the NETWORK representative in the office at 1-800-323-4453. We’re available to take your calls on weekdays during normal business hours and weekends before the early games start.
Back with you in the NOTEBOOK Wednesday to talk about Texas/North Carolina in college basketball. There’s no NFL game on Thursday this week, so we'll look at UCLA/Duke in college hoops in another Madison Square Garden delight. Friday will bring bowl coverage as we look at USC/Fresno State…and then Tulane/Louisiana Lafayette on Saturday. Then it’s back to the NFL for Philadelphia/Chicago on NBC Sunday Night and Atlanta/San Francisco on ESPN Monday Night.
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