Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - With a spot in the third round in the East Region of the 2014 NCAA Tournament on the line, the eighth-seeded Memphis Tigers will clash with the ninth-seeded George Washington Colonials at PNC Arena.
George Washington has returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since going to three straight from 2005-07. The Colonials earned an at-large bid after posting a 24-8 overall record this season, including wins over NCAA Tournament squads like Saint Joseph's, Massachusetts and Creighton.
Memphis has a more storied history in this event, as this appearance marks its fourth straight and 26th overall. The Tigers' last few trips didn't last long as they have not made it past the third round in the last three NCAA Tournaments, following a run of four straight seasons in which they got to the Sweet 16 or beyond. This season they are 23-9 overall, with key wins over Louisville, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga.
These teams met for the first and only time during the 1994 Preseason NIT when George Washington claimed a 69-60 victory. The winner this time around will get to take on either top-seeded Virginia or 16th-seeded Coastal Carolina in the next round on Sunday.
George Washington won four straight games to reach the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament semifinals, but they fell short against VCU by a final score of 74-55. The Colonials turned the ball over 15 times and were outscored 30-15 from 3-point range. They also suffered a 37-28 deficit on the glass.
One bright spot for GW in the loss was the return of Kethan Savage (12.7 ppg). Although he only played a single minute, getting him back could be real boost for the Colonials on offense, especially considering they are scoring a modest 73.4 ppg. Maurice Creek (14.3 ppg) remains the top scoring threat for the squad, although he struggled with only seven points against VCU. Luckily there is plenty of depth, with Isaiah Armwood (12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Patricio Garino (12.2 ppg) and Kevin Larsen (11.3 ppg, 7 rpg) all pitching in on offense.
Memphis lost in the quarterfinals, despite serving as the host for the American Athletic Conference Tournament. The Tigers were run over by UConn, 72-53, as they connected on just 26.4 percent from the field, while being outscored 30-18 in the paint.
The Colonials shouldn't count on another weak offensive showing from Memphis, which is a talented team. The Tigers are fourth in the nation in assists (17.4 apg) and among the top-40 teams in the country in both scoring (77.6 ppg) and field goal percentage (.479). Joe Jackson runs the show for Memphis, and he leads the way in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (4.5 apg). He netted 10 points on just 4-of-12 shooting against UConn. Shaq Goodwin (11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Michael Dixon Jr. (11.8 ppg) are the next best scoring options for Josh Pastner's squad.