UofM fan: The new American Athletic Conference (AAC) is awesome!
UConn fan: (squinting) How so?
UofM fan: Well, for one the Tigers have gotten much better exposure this year. We have been on a major network 8 times in 16 games.
UConn fan: (sarcastically) Hate to break it to you, but that's what it was like it in the Big East for us in the past.
UofM fan: Yeah, but the step up in competition has been great for the Tigers. Instead of playing UAB, Marshall, and ECU... we are playing teams like Cincinnati, Louisville and well, y'all!
UConn fan: (sighs) See that's great for Memphis, but we were already playing those teams plus Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Syracuse before the realignment.
There are at least two sides to every story. For the tale of the AAC, it's a step up for teams like SMU, Houston and Memphis and a step back for Louisville, UConn and Cincinnati.
Many of the old Big East/new AAC teams may be shaking their heads at the optimistic outlook of the newcomers; however, deep down they need teams like Houston, SMU and Memphis to be good.
The better these new teams play, the better the conference looks. Thus, giving all the teams more credibility headed into the NCAA tournament.
So last night (Jan. 16), the Huskies couldn't have been happier that the Tigers were ranked No. 17 in the country. A loss on the road against a top 25 team wouldn't have really hurt UConn. Yet, a win in a hostile environment does wonders for the Huskies' resume.
Memphis led by one (40-39) at halftime, but the lead could have been larger. Just when it looked as if the Tigers might broaden the gap, UConn answered with some big shots and kept the game tight.
To sum up the second half, let this soak in: There were 59 shots attempted between the two teams; 31 of those were made baskets. And of the 28 misses, Memphis was only able to corral 8 rebounds.
In a game where the halftime score differential was only one point, it's easy to see how the Tigers ended up losing by 10 points (83-73).
Still, the final score was a little misleading. Memphis only had 9 turnovers. The Tigers shot 41 percent from three and 43.5 percent from the field. That's pretty impressive numbers considering their recent shooting woes. The Tigers truly played a good game.
Be that as it may, this is the AAC and "good" games don't necessarily equal victories.
After the game, Memphis head coach Josh Pastner said, "UConn made big shots and deserved to win the game. This isn't intramurals. Our seniors got to make big plays. ... UConn's (seniors) did. Cincy's (seniors) did."
Pastner was definitely a little frustrated, but five games into conference play the Tigers are 3-2. Not a bad start for Memphis, seeing as no one team looks to be running away with the league.
The surprise is that Memphis is 3-0 on the road and 0-2 at home in conference play. And those two home losses have both been by double digits.
And for the True Blue Nation, the rollercoaster ride continues!