It’s been a weird season for the Memphis Tigers and Head Coach Penny Hardaway as they have gone from one extreme to the next, leading to an even bigger roller coaster ride for the Memphis fans. We’ve even seen the worst from Penny Hardaway when he told a local Memphis reporter to stop asking ” Stupid fucking questions” following a defeat in January. From there, Penny Hardaway proved a lot of folks wrong, including me, and rallied the city of Memphis with one common goal of cheering on the hometown Memphis Tigers.
The only other way to describe what is happening in the city of Memphis is to draw a correlation to the numerous times that the Memphis Grizzlies played in the NBA Playoffs. Folks from all walks of life rallied together to cheer on the Grizzlies with hopes of bringing home an NBA Championship to the city. Everywhere you go, Memphians are talking about the Tigers, which has unintentionally created the biggest NCAA Tournament matchup in recent program history against Gonzaga on Saturday.
As far as the matchup goes, it’ll be challenging for the Tigers but not entirely out of possibility. All season long, Gonzaga has shown the College Basketball world that they belong at the table for National Championship contenders. But, it’s the NCAA Tournament, and the Tigers have the pieces to do something that many Memphis teams have never done. With a win on Saturday, Memphis will reach the Sweet 16 round for the first time since the 2009 season.
However, as big as a win over Gonzaga would be for the Tigers, Saturday is more about what the game itself means to the Memphis basketball program. Saturday is about showing the world exactly who Memphis Basketball is and where they stand in terms of the future of College Basketball. If, by some miracle, the Tigers find a way to win, then it will be the biggest win in recent program history.
A win on Saturday would set Memphis up beautifully to make a win at a Final Four appearance this season and would forever solidify Penny Hardaway as the Head Coach of the Memphis Tigers for generations to come. The magnitude of tomorrow’s Memphis Second Round matchup is that of program-changing levels.
With all of that being said, even in event of a Memphis Tigers loss on Saturday, Penny Hardaway and his Memphis Tigers have once proved that Memphis Basketball is here to stay, and Penny Hardaway is the guy who will lead this program to the program land despite what talking heads may or may not say.