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NCAA Tournament Predictions: 6. Memphis vs. 11. Saint Mary’s

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Guard Chris Crawford

 6 Memphis (30-4, 16-0 C-USA)-The Tigers have got plenty of talent. This group, led by guard Chris Crawford and point guard Joe Jackson along with Portland Trailblazers guard Will Barton, was ranked as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country when they came to Memphis three years ago. They haven’t lived up to those lofty expectations, but they’re still a dangerous bunch to contend with.

Crawford is cold-blooded. The junior took over at the end of the C-USA championship game, knocking down big shot after big shot and almost single-handedly sending Southern Miss home. If Memphis needs a late basket, he’s the man they’re going to look for.

KEY STATS:

5th Assists (17.2)

25th Points Per Game (75.4)

16th Field Goal Percentage (.479)

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Guard Marcos Knight (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Guard Marcos Knight (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

 11 Middle Tennessee State (28-5, 19-1 Sun Belt)- The Blue Raiders earned an at-large bid despite falling in the Sun Belt conference tournament. Mid Tennessee State ran roughshod over the rest of the conference during the regular season, boasting a 19-1 record. None of their losses are bad, either. Two came in overtime, two were against fellow tourney teams Akron and Belmont, and one was at the hands of SEC regular season champ Florida at the beginning of the year. They also defeated SEC tournament champ Ole Miss and are 21-2 since mid-December.

The Blue Raiders don’t have a major scoring threat, as Marcos Knight leads them at 12.5 points per game.

KEY STATS:

85th Points Per Game (71.2)

40th Field Goal Percentage (.463)

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11 Saint Mary’s (27-6, 14-2 WCC)- The Gaels couldn’t beat Gonzaga, but they beat everyone else in the West Coast Conference and earned an at-large berth into the field of 68. Saint Mary’s is led by senior guard Matthew Dellavedova, who has been through the NCAA Tournament wars as a supplemental part and is now back as the focal point of his team’s offense. Dellavedova started on the Saint Mary’s squad that beat Villanova in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16.

Now, the Australia native leads the Gaels in scoring at 15.8 points per game. He also leads them in assists, dishing out 6.4 per. Shut him down, and you’ve got a great chance to beat St. Mary’s.

KEY STATS:

23rd Points Per Game (75.5)

22nd Field Goal Percentage (.474)

 

PREDICTION: Memphis over Saint Mary’s

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