Memphis' backcourt too big to fail?

Why the Tigers' guard-heavy rotation makes them so dangerous this season

Updated: December 17, 2013, 9:15 AM ET
By John Gasaway | ESPN Insider

Memphis AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackChris Crawford (3) and Michael Dixon (11) are two key pieces to Memphis' backcourt puzzle.

I hereby nominate Memphis as the Top 25's most mysterious team. Here it is the middle of December, and the Tigers have played just eight games. Among ranked teams, only Iowa State is similarly underexposed, and even the Cyclones had the courtesy to at least play eight different opponents.

Conversely, Josh Pastner's team has split two games against Oklahoma State (losing by 21 in Stillwater, winning by five in Orlando, Fla.), defeated LSU and Siena on a neutral floor and overwhelmed four outmatched opponents at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. And that's it. That's all we have on this team at the moment.

That's why I'm here. Memphis may be giving us less to go on than, say, Kansas (which seems to play a Top 25 opponent nightly, often on the road), but I've long been of the opinion that there's much to be learned even with a team as reclusive as the Tigers. I like this team's chances to give Connecticut a push for second place behind Louisville in the race for the American Athletic Conference crown, in part because I expect Michael Dixon will continue to get more minutes and shots within a very crowded backcourt rotation.

Here's what I'm seeing as Pastner's men ready themselves for a big test against Florida on Tuesday at the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden (9 p.m. ET, ESPN):


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