Preview: Saint Mary's vs. Memphis
Memphis has lost only once in the last 25 games, but the talented Tigers are somewhat unproven with a 1-3 record against NCAA Tournament teams. Sixth-seeded Memphis gets a chance to start showing it belongs as a contender when it plays Saint Mary's in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Thursday at Auburn Hills, Mich. The Tigers' losses to NCAA entrants Virginia Commonwealth, Louisville and Minnesota were all before Dec. 16 and Memphis went unbeaten in Conference USA after that. Memphis is balanced offensively and averages almost 76 points.
Saint Mary's handled Middle Tennessee 67-54 in Tuesday's first round, getting 22 points and four assists from senior Matthew Dellavedova. The Australian guard is the program's all-time leader in scoring and assists, opening up the floor for a team that has made 270 shots from behind the 3-point line.
TV: 2:45 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT SAINT MARY'S (28-6): Dellavedova stirs the drink for the Gaels on the perimeter, but they have been a solid team inside with a plus-8.5 rebounding margin. Saint Mary's also makes 37.9 percent from 3-point range and shoots 47.4 overall, led by Dellavedova who averages 16 points and 6.4 assists. Stephen Holt, who scored 18 against Middle Tennessee, Beau Levesque and Brad Waldow also score in double figures for the Gaels, who are making back-to-back trips to the NCAAs for the first time in their history. Saint Mary's has only three losses since Christmas, all against No. 1 Gonzaga.
ABOUT MEMPHIS (30-4): The Tigers are making their 25th appearance in the NCAAs, looking for their first victory since 2009 when they reached the regional semifinals. Memphis matches Saint Mary's in shooting statistics and also has four players averaging in double figures scoring. Joe Jackson is the key, leading the team in points (13.6) and assists (4.8). The junior guard makes 52.7 percent of his shots. Chris Crawford is the biggest threat from long range, making 19-of-35 in the conference tournament and has led the team in scoring the last six games. Adonis Thomas and Geron Johnson are also dangerous on the offensive end.
1. Memphis has three players with at least 112 assists and 47 steals (Jackson, Crawford and Johnson).
2. Saint Mary's is one of four Division I programs with at least 25 wins in the last six seasons.
3. Memphis senior G/F D.J. Stephens has 122 career dunks, including 64 this season.
PREDICTION: Memphis 78, Saint Mary's 68