July 15, 2024

Can Memphis Make History Against #1 Ranked Houston? 

All college basketball eyes will be on the FedEx Forum this Sunday, where 23-7 Memphis and 28-2 and #1 Houston will battle, at 11 am, on CBS. Memphis is locked in the second-place slot in next weekend’s AAC Conference Tournament, but a win would make history. What history? We will look shortly. We will also examine some series history and what a win means for Memphis regarding the NCAA Tournament. Let’s start with some history with the number one seed inside the FedEx Forum and Memphis program. 

Welcoming a #1 Seed

Last Time Done? 

In the illustrious Memphis Basketball history, many would assume that a #1 seed had played in Memphis. This has only happened once and took place in the Pyramid {Yes, it is now a Bass Pro}. On Dec 8, 1993, Memphis and Arkansas battled with the Razorbacks coming away with a 96-78 victory. Arkansas was ranked number one in the nation then and would become the eventual national champion that season. 

To briefly revisit that game, statistically, Memphis was led in points with 20 and rebounded with eight. The Tigers would finish the game shooting 30/67 {44%} from the field, 5/19 {26%} from 3, and 13/18 {72%} from the free throw line. Memphis would outrebound Arkansas 41-32, but it wouldn’t be enough as Corliss Williamson would score 18 along with four other Hogs in double figures and get the win. The atmosphere for that game was electric, and we expected the game at the Forum to be the same. Speaking of the Forum, it has some history. 

First Time At The Forum 

 As a program, Memphis is 0-10 all-time against #1 ranked teams during the regular and post-season seasons. Four of the ten matchups have come in the NCAA Tournament { 73 ‘ UCLA Natl Champ, 83’ Houston S16, 07’ Ohio St S16, 22’ Gonzaga 2nd Rd} with the remainder in the regular season. The last time Memphis faced a top-seeded team in the regular season was in 2009 when Memphis and  #1 ranked Kansas tangled with the Jayhawks coming away with a 57-55 win.

This will be the first time Memphis will host the #1 seed in the FedEx Forum. Memphis has played some top teams at home since moving to the Forum. Over the last two seasons, it has been a place of success as the Tigers have a combined 26-3 record. Following a win this season, Memphis is 15-7, and this is the biggest game of them all. Can Memphis continue to defend its home court? We will find out. 

Memphis and Houston Series History 

Memphis and Houston have met 57 times on the hardwood, with Memphis leading 35-22. These rivals have been involved in some classics over the thirty years of battle. Since the first games against conference foes in 1996-97, Memphis leads the series 32-17. Houston has won seven of the last ten games and holds a two-game winning streak. Of the last 14 meetings between these two teams, ten games have been decided by single digits.

This will be the eleventh straight time the Cougars have been ranked when Memphis faces them, and it will be another close game. One of the intriguing factors is the head coaches on the sidelines. Penny Hardaway leads Memphis, and Kelvin Sampson leads Houston. Sampson leads the way as far as wins with a 9-7 record as a head coach against Memphis. Sampson was 0-2 while at Oklahoma as a coach. Penny has a 3-7 record against the Cougars. The most recent Memphis win in this series was a 75-61 win on March 6, 2022. 

What This Game Means For The Season and Postseason 

A win over the Cougars would boost an already impressive tournament resume. Memphis has a current NCAA NET of 37, KenPom.com of 36, and, as mentioned above, a locked two-seed for the conference tournament. All these things make Memphis an automatic bid team, with Houston, from the American Athletic Conference. With the Cougars having a NET ranking of number one, a win would give Memphis its third Quad one win and second win over a ranked team of the season. The nine other conference teams besides Houston have combined for eight Q1 wins this season, A win by Memphis would be massive when next weekend’s NCAA Tournament Bracket is released. If Memphis can win, it would be their most wins in the conference, with its 14th since joining in 2013-14. 

Legendary Voices

When the CBS music hits and we hear Jim Namtz and Bill Raftery from the FedEx Forum, it will have a different feel this season. There is history on the line in this game. Can Memphis make history today?  The crowd will be in a frenzy for Memphis and Houston, and one thing is sure. We will have to wait and see, but we will have two legendary voices calling all the action. 

Further reading

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