On Tuesday night, a pair of first year coaches in Penny Hardaway and Sam Scholl will face off at FedExForum in the first round of the NIT. Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers (21-13,11-7) will play host to the 6th seeded San Diego Toreros (21-14,7-9).
San Diego Toreros
The Toreros hail from the West Coast Conference, which is most notably home to NCAA tournament teams Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. San Diego finished the season with 7 regular season wins in conference play. They entered the WCC tournament as the 7th seed and defeated Portland, Santa Clara, and BYU in the first three rounds before falling to eventual tournament champions Saint Mary’s in the semifinals.
At a glance, San Diego is ranked 86th in KenPom and 97th in the NET rankings. They average 72.3 points per game while giving up only 68 points to opponents. They have struggled on the road, owning a record of 5-8.
On the Torero’s roster are a pair of All-WCC seniors. First team forward Isaiah Pineiro is 5th in the WCC in scoring and second in rebounds with 19.1 and 9.5 respectively. This 6’7” 215 lb big man has scored in double figures in every game — 20 points or more sixteen times — this season and has hauled in 17 double-doubles.
Second team All-WCC guard Olin Carter III contributes 14.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Carter shoots nearly 37% from three on 6.9 attempts per game. He has hit three or more threes in half of his appearances this year.
Senior guard Isaiah Wright also averages in double figure scoring with 13.8 points and 4.1 rebounds to go along with a team high 4.7 assists.
The Penny Hardaway-led Memphis Tigers finished off the regular season and conference tournament strong and (similar to San Diego) made it to the semi-finals of the American Athletic Conference tournament, falling to Houston.
The three seeded Tigers are ranked 62nd in KenPom and 46th in NET. They have a solid record of 17-3 at home. Memphis employs a run and gun style of play and puts up 80.6 points per game while giving up 74.7 per contest.
Memphis senior guard Jeremiah Martin is the lifeblood of this Tiger team. He was a unanimous first team All-AAC selection while finishing second in the conference in scoring with 19.6 points per game. Twice this season he netted over 40 points in a game. He also adds 4.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per appearance.
Forward Kyvon Davenport is an inconsistent but very important part of this Memphis team. He averages 13.2p/7.1r/1.1 assists per game and has the capability to decide the game if he shows up to play.
Local Memphis guard Tyler Harris was selected to the All-Freshman team for the AAC and is third on the Memphis roster in scoring, putting up 10.6 points per game. He is a streaky shooter who has hit three or more threes in fifteen games. However, he has also failed to score in multiple contests. If he can get hot, it opens up driving lanes for Martin, who is excellent at finishing at the rim.
Zak (@BarnBurnerBro) is a native Memphian who covers the Memphis Grizzlies, Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals for The Barn. He spends his free time exploring breweries, restaurants, and leading the Ivan Rabb stan club.