It’s been a long time coming but, Head Coach Penny Hardaway has his Tigers primed and ready for a run at the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. There’s still a long road ahead but, the Tigers have a path and, the train keeps rolling on Saturday as the Tigers get ready to face off against a red hot East Carolina team. An East Carolina team will be coming into FedEx Forum looking for another statement win of their own after defeating 5th ranked Houston 82-73 on Wednesday night.
Saturday’s matchup is the biggest in the Penny Hardaway era because, with a win, the Tigers would be in sole second place in AAC, heading into a week where they host Cincinnati on Thursday before heading to Houston to take on the Cougars.
A loss on Saturday would complicate things for the Tigers just a bit. It would drop Memphis to 11-6 overall and 7-4 in conference play, which would make the chances at earning an At-Large NCAA Tournament just about out of reach.
In the first meeting between these two programs, it was all Memphis from the opening tip until the closing buzzer as the Tigers cruised to any easy 80-53 road win in Greenville.
For Head Coach Penny Hardaway, these next few weeks are personal. It’s finally his time to shut out all the outside noise and prove to people across the college basketball landscape that he does belong in the same sentence as a Head Coach of a major basketball program. As a coach, Penny Hardaway has had his bumps in the road like any young coach, but if Penny can rally this Memphis basketball program to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, it will be nothing short of amazing. What Penny Hardaway has done with this team in the second half of the season has also landed him in the running for coach of the year honors in the AAC.
For the Tigers, keep on winning, and you’ll be dancing in March. It’s that simple, and all that starts on Saturday afternoon as the Tigers welcome the Pirates to FedEx Forum.