Northridge vs. Memphis Promises To Be Good Show

For anyone who has not seen Cal State Northridge play — and that’s pretty much everyone — you are in for an entertaining game. The Matadors press on defense, jump passing lanes and gamble for steals, they run the fast break at every chance and they embrace the three-pointer like a prodigal son.

The bad news for Northridge is that plays right into Memphis’ hands.

The Northridge/Memphis tilt is the second game to tip off in he tournament Thursday morning, 9:15 a.m. in Northridge (the game is being played in Kansas City). People around the nation settling in for weekend of fun basketball will wonder what hit them — the first five minutes of this game may resemble pure chaos.

The problem for Northridge is that when things settle down (relatively), what they want to do on the court is exactly what Memphis wants to do with better athletes. Memphis plays an aggressive on the ball defense and if they get the steal they are a beast in the open court with freshman Tyreke Evans controlling the ball. Memphis runs a penetration-based offense that Northridge saw a couple years ago when Pepperdine was running it, but nobody is confusing the Tigers athletes with the Waves.

Northridge is now led by Rodrigue Mels, who averaged 25 points a game in the Big West Tournament on his way to the MVP award. Tremaine Townsend, at 6-9, is athletic and is going to have to provide the inside presence for the Matadors.  How Townsend is going to match up with future NBA player Robert Dozier will be an issue.

But the bigger issue is one of overall talent and style. Northridge might have had a punchers chance if they landed a team that liked to slow down the pace and play deliberate basketball. The aggressive style might have thrown that kind of team off its game.

But it won’t against Memphis, those guys will be excited to see the reins loosened. They will bomb threes and gamble on steals too — and since Northridge turns the ball over 16 times a game on average, the Tigers should get a few spectacular dunks. Everything Northridge wants to do, Memphis just does better.

But if nothing else, Northridge will promise people an entertaining start to the tournament.

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