The Memphis Tigers and the No. 6 ranked Louisville Cardinals will continue their rivalry this Saturday at the FedExForum. This will be the first time the Cardinals have made a trip to Memphis since 2005. The Cards won that game 52-44. The Cardinals has a 54-32 advance in the series over the Tigers and have won the last three games, but the Tigers are 22-15 in Memphis.
The Cardinals defeated the Tigers last season 95-87 at the Yum! Center last season. This will be a great opportunity for the Tigers to get a quality win against a non-conference opponent and improve their RPI and possible post season seeding. Tigers head coach Josh Pastner wanted to renew the series with the Cards as a payback to the Tigers fans for their support of the team.
The Cards and Tigers were conference rivals for many years when they both played in the Metro, Great Midwest and Conference USA before the Cardinals moved to the Big East Conference in 2005. The Tigers will move to the Big East next year, but the Cardinals will move to the Atlantic Coast Conference after next season
Five reasons the Tigers can beat the Louisville Cardinals:
Shaq Goodwin. Goodwin was named Conference USA Freshman of the week this week. He is the first Tiger to earn this honor since Will Barton won the award the week of February 11, 2011. Goodwin led the Tigers to a 2-0 week with victories over Ohio 84-58 and Austin Peay 83-65. In the two contests, he averaged 12.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals. He shot 66.7 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the free throw line.
Gerron Johnson. Johnson has been a welcome addition to the Tigers. Johnson brings experience and confidence. He is also very talented and is averaging 11.0 points per game and is shooting 50 percent from the field, but it is his poise that benefits the Tigers the most.
Perimeter defense. The Tigers perimeter defense has been horrible against good outside shooting teams. In the Bahamas, the Tigers were torched by VCU and Minnesota with their speed and shooting. The Cards will present the Tigers with the same challenge this week. Russ Smith will challenge the Tigers defense. He is the Card’s leading scorer with 20.3 points per game and is deadly from outside.
Joe Jackson consistent play. Jackson has had an up and down career at Memphis. Jackson has to learn how to play within the confines of the team structure. He also needs to manage his speed to match his teammates.
Team intensity. Many of the players on the Tigers’ team do not have any clue to the fierce rivalry between the two schools and they think it is just another game. The players will soon find out this is not just another game. The alumni and people of Memphis will let any player they come in contact with know the importance of this game. FedExForum will be sold out and the crowd will be electric. It will be up to the team on the floor to keep the energy in the building.
Terry Davis is a regular contributor for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.