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2019 NIT ROUND TWO: #3 Memphis v #2 Creighton Preview

Penny Hardaway visits Omaha. Penny Hardaway should visit Block 16.

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Anfernee Hardaway

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IS FOR CROOKS AND SQUARES. WATCH THE NIT INSTEAD. HERE’S HOW:

Game Time: 7:30pm CT

Location: CHICO, Omaha, NE

TICKETS: Ticket Master (lots available, especially in the lower bowl)

TV: ESPNU

Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: 1620AM the Zone & 101.9 the Keg in Omaha


Verbs de Ludis

There are a bunch of rule changes in the NIT this year. The teams got very little time to adjust but who cares, getting weird in the NIT is what we all dream of and the showrunners of this program know that.

Here’s a quick rundown on what you’re going to be seeing and how it’s going to be different:

  • 3-point line extended one foot and eight inches, same as FIBA competition.
  • Free throw blocks are expanded from 12 feet to 16 feet, same as NBA.
  • Shot clock reset to 20 seconds on offensive boards.
  • Halves are essentially broken into quarters, with team fouls resetting at the 10 minute mark. After the fifth foul in each quarter the teams will shoot two freebies. The fouls will also reset going into halftime.

Memphis likes to run and they love to score a lot. When the Tigers score less than 80 points in a game they’re 9-12, with glaring losses to Charleston, Tulsa, and South Florida. At 22-13, they have just one loss on their record when they score 80+ points, and that was to intrastate rival Tennessee by a score of 102-92. They average 80 points per game, shoot 45% from the field, and average 15 turnovers per game.

The Tigers are led by four seniors on their squad in Jeremiah Martin (6’3 185lb 19.4PPG), Kyvon Davenport (6’8 215lb, 13.3PPG), Kareem Brewton (6’2 195lb, 8.3 PPG), and Raynere Thornton (6’6 230lb, 7.2PPG). They’ve also got a freshman tossed into the starting lineup in Tyler Harris, a 5’9 150lb freshman that averages 10.8 PPG and shoots a fuckload of threes. They’ve been sporadically starting Mike Parks, a 6’8 250lb senior. He doesn’t play a lot of minutes and gets pulled pretty early. Parks played just 9 minutes against USF and managed to foul out, so take his talents for what they’re worth.

Penny Hardaway’s bench is deep, the rotation going 9-deep, with all nine guys averaging more than 13 minutes per game. This is a team that slashes to the rim with unabashed brutality, forcing teams to send them to the line as 21% of their total point production comes from the charity stripe. In this scenario, Creighton is helped a ton by the new NIT rules.

Beyond that it’s just a team that rips and runs, that tries to exhaust their opponents. This is the complete opposite of what Tubby Smith had implemented during his reign as the Tigers have shaved off 3 seconds per possession from last year to this year.

For the first time seemingly all year the Jays have a huge advantage in the interior. They’re going to need Martin Krampelj to protect the rim at all costs. If he slips into foul trouble - which he probably will - Christian Bishop will need to step up in his stead. This also might be an opportunity for Sam Froling to log some minutes in the paint, since Memphis lacks the kind of size that can properly guard the FIBA oriented big man.

Jeremiah Martin poured in 31 points against San Diego in the first round of the NIT. At a similar size, Davion Mintz will likely draw the assignment on him. The style that Martin plays will play into Mintz’s ability to guard, since Martin doesn’t shoot a lot of threes, but gets a lot of isos and drives to the hoop.

Martin is the AAC version of Markus Howard. He’s scored 30+ points 5 times this season including a 41 point performance in a loss to USF and 43 point performance in a rout against Tulane. Again, he doesn’t shoot threes, but he gets to the tin and to the charity stripe a lot.

San Diego managed to shoot 42% from three on 24 attempts in that game against Memphis. In their two games against Houston - the best three point shooting squad in the AAC - the Cougars shot just 34% from three in the first game and a lowly 26% from three in the second game.

The Tigers managed to shut down Mike Daum in an early December meeting with the Jackrabbits, forcing him into just 18 points on 4-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for Memphis, they allowed David Jenkins to go off for 35 points on 8-11 shooting from three.

Creighton will simply need to stop dribble drive penetration, force Memphis into shooting perimeter shots, stay out of foul trouble, and try to limit Martin’s points. The offense will need to find a rhythm but against a team that likes to push in transition that shouldn’t be a problem. ALSO: AVOID LETTING DUNKS SWING MOMENTUM. Easy as that, boys.


SONG OF THE DAY - PRETTY GOOD - JOHN PRINE