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Tigers Basketball Insider: Memphis’ group of transfers have already accomplished main goal
University of Memphis forward Deandre Williams (12) celebrates a big during dunk during the AAC Championship Game against the University of Houston March 11, 2023. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian)

University of Memphis forward Deandre Williams (12) celebrates a big during dunk during the AAC Championship Game against the University of Houston March 11, 2023. (Patrick Lantrip/The Daily Memphian)

Welcome to this week’s Tigers Basketball Insider. Below you’ll find the latest news and analysis from The Daily Memphian’s Parth Upadhyaya, John Martin, Tim Buckley and Geoff Calkins.

Think you can build a better NCAA tournament bracket than those four? Submit yours to our Beat the Daily Memphian Bracket Challenge here. You have until 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 16 to enter. It’s free to enter.

Most of us had known Memphis would be dancing this March ever since its AAC Tournament first-round win over UCF.


But the Tigers refused to leave any doubt. They checked off the goal several of the team’s transfers had in the first place when this team was assembled last offseason.

Coach Penny Hardaway’s group went out and brought home an AAC Tournament title — and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament — with a 75-65 win Sunday over No. 1 Houston. It marked the program’s first conference tournament championship since 2013.

Six members of the team’s regular rotation will play in the tournament for the first time in their collegiate careers. Kendric Davis, Elijah McCadden, Damaria Franklin, Kao Akobundu-Ehiogu, Johnathan Lawson and Keonté Kennedy (if he returns after breaking his hand in late February).

DeAndre Williams, Alex Lomax, Chandler Lawson, Malcolm Dandridge and Jayden Hardaway all suited up last season when Memphis made it to the second round. The No. 9 seed Tigers beat No. 8 seed Boise State before falling to No. 1 Gonzaga in the Round of 32.

How far Memphis makes it this season as a No. 8 seed in the East region is to be determined. The group plays No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic at 8:15 p.m. Friday, March 17, in Columbus, Ohio. And if it can get by the Conference USA champion Owls, it likely see No. 1 seed Purdue on Sunday, March 19.


Still, with a 26-8 overall record, an AAC title and — most importantly — a mission of getting a handful of players in their final years to the NCAA Tournament accomplished, it’d be hard to say this campaign has been anything short of a successful one.

More from your Insider:

Memphis punches second consecutive ticket to NCAA Tournament

Coach Penny Hardaway’s Tigers heard their name called on CBS’ Selection Sunday show a little more than an hour after winning their first-ever AAC Tournament title.

Memphis makes program history in AAC championship, beats No. 1 Houston

This is what the Tigers had been building toward. This was what Penny Hardaway claimed they were capable of doing all along. 

Calkins: Tigers claim the title — and Hardaway delivers on the promise that he made.

Penny Hardaway took the job at Memphis with the promise that he’d deliver titles. Sunday, The Tigers knocked off No. 1 Houston to win the AAC Tournament. They’re not done for the season. The NCAAs await. But after five years, Hardaway delivered on his promise. And it was glorious.

Tigers set to play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament

Memphis will have an extended postseason after producing a 20-win season for the first time in 11 years.

AAC commissioner: Memphis will be ‘even more important’ to conference in 2023-24

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco spoke to reporters Saturday about the divide between Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences, conference realignment and Memphis’ place in a new-look AAC.

Calkins: Davis & Williams are the best Memphis duo since — OK, you decide

Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams each scored more than 30 points in leading Memphis over UCF Friday. That’s the first time two Memphis players have scored 30 or more in the same game in over 52 years.

Davis, Williams combine for 68 points in win over UCF

The All-AAC duo combined for 68 points on 24-39 shooting, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Tigers advance in the AAC Tournament to play Tulane in a Saturday semifinal game.

Why Malcolm Dandridge could be Memphis’ ‘X-factor’ this postseason

As Memphis begins AAC Tournament play with a quarterfinal matchup on Friday, it will need Dandridge to impact games on a regular basis.

Kendric Davis, DeAndre Williams earn All-AAC honors

The AAC announced its all-conference team selections and award winners for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday.

Where will Memphis land in the NCAA Tournament? Experts predict

A tracker looking at seed, location and opponent projections for the Tigers from bracketology specialists.

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