#24 USC (6-2) vs. #2 Memphis (6-0) - Game Preview
When: Tuesday, Dec. 4th @ 6:00 PM (PST)
Where: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Memphis was my pick for preseason #1 because of their balance of skill/role players and depth, so I have tremendous respect for this team. The Tigers have an elite freshman of their own in Derrick Rose. Rose is a lightning quick guard with unbelievable athleticism (think Chris Paul with a better vertical); I still remember nearly falling out of my seat during one of his high school games after he threw down two jaw-dropping dunks on consecutive plays. He is one of Chicago's finest and many predict him to be a lock as a top 3 pick in the 2008 draft. Ok, enough with the gushing right? Derrick will obviously be a mismatch and I believe the only way to truly contain him is to force him outside and make him shoot off the dribble. In the past we've seen Coach Floyd use a defender to face up the opponent and follow him everywhere on the court without paying attention to the ball, so maybe we'll see something similar. The problem with paying too much attention to Derrick is Memphis has a excellent swingman in Chris Douglas-Roberts who leads the team in scoring, averaging 21.8 points per game; Chris is an intelligent player who sort of reminds me of Brandon Roy. I'm confident that we can put Daniel Hackett on him and take our chances one-on-one. Containing both Rose and Douglas-Roberts will likely be the deciding factor in this game.
Having played such an intense game on Sunday, I think the first 10 minutes of this game will be big for the team. If we can come out with intensity and assert ourselves offensively, we have a solid chance at pulling the upset. I fear that with two big games in a span of 3 days and traveling cross-country, the team will come out sluggish and give up a big lead that may be insurmountable. Memphis has had nearly a full weeks rest, so you can expect them to come out of the gates flying. I'm likely wrong in saying this because the fact that the team is playing in NY at Madison Square Garden will probably make them forget all about Sunday's game both physically and mentally. All in all, we're in for a big treat getting to watch two basketball prodigies in O.J. and Derrick go at it. As for a prediction, I feel this game will be similar to Kansas where we show spurts of promise followed by lapses due to inexperience, so I'm going with a loss for the 1st time this season, but I think the game will be close.
Prediction: L by 4