The first meeting between Memphis and Louisville since the 2005 Conference USA title game certainly did not disappoint from a drama standpoint, with both teams landing major blows throughout the contest. But despite a combined 74 first-half points the play was ragged for much of the contest, with the Cardinals taking a 42-32 lead into the break thanks to the Tigers shooting 29% from the field and turning the ball over ten times. But led by Will Barton (28 points, 16 rebounds) Josh Pastner's team refused to fold, fighting back to take a 57-55 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
The end of finals week for many schools means a step up in competition on Saturday, and one contest that will garner attention is the second game of the Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Florida. #22 Texas A&M (8-1), which has a strength of schedule that ranks 341st in the country, takes on #13 Florida (7-2) in what should be an interesting matchup. Do the Aggies have the horses on the perimeter to hang with the Gator guards?
Another day brings about another opportunity for a Pac-12 team to strike a blow for the conference, with Arizona (6-2) traveling across the country to take on #12 Florida (5-2). Sean Miller's team left an important piece of "cargo" back in Tucson as well, as freshman guard Josiah Turner was suspended for reportedly missing practice.
The championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational provides undefeated UNLV (6-0) with not only a great opportunity but also a great measuring stick, as they take on #1 North Carolina (5-0) at the Orleans Arena. The Rebels fought off a USC team that may not be long on talent but they do make you earn everything, and UNC wasn't challenged much by South Carolina in the nightcap. Whether or not Dave Rice's team can beat the Tar Heels likely depends on the play of their most recent UCLA transfer, forward Mike Moser (15.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 3.2 spg).
Friday marks the first big day of the college basketball season with more than 100 games on the schedule. Sure most of the games look to be of the "opening sacrifice" variety, but a closer look reveals some intriguing matchups. It only makes sense to begin with the game that needs little introduction, the Carrier Classic game matching preseason national title favorite North Carolina and Michigan State. The game will be played on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, which will likely cue a few "I'm on a boat" jokes.
While many teams across the country look to begin the process of building towards an NCAA Tournament berth with trips outside of the country in the summer, not everyone has the same set of circumstances to deal with once the season begins.
Next up is the Southeast region, which contributed to the craziness of the NCAA Tournament beginning with Butler knocking off top-seed Pittsburgh in the third round. The question now is what's next for the entire region beginning with the Panthers, who welcome a solid recruiting class while also waiting to see what Ashton Gibbs' decision in regards to staying in the NBA Draft will be.