Memphis Tigers basketball out to prove it's not just good on paper

In the pursuit of trying to get our Ph.D in bracketology (Jerry Palm is the professor) we’re always attempting to figure out who’s in, out, on the bubble, in a bubble or just blowing bubbles.

Teams like the No. 19 Memphis Tigers keep us guessing and scratching our heads wondering just how good they really are and what their tournament future will be.

The Tigers are 24-4 and undefeated in Conference USA. However, their league is ranked 11th in the RPI, behind the Missouri Valley and West Coast conferences.

Because the Tigers play in such a low-RPI conference, their record could be somewhat bolstered. Therefore, some people call them "paper Tigers," Seth Davis said to Memphis coach Josh Pastner.

“Conference USA is a strong league.” Pastner said. “When you’re looking at our coaches and our players in the league, this is a great basketball league. The gap has closed. Everybody’s good. If you’ve asked other coaches in our league who’ve coached in Power 6 conferences, they will tell you our league is just as just as good as those other leagues. Give us some credit.”

Regardless of their conference RPI, having only two top-50 wins and losing to a non-conference team late in the season (Xavier) to end an 18-game win streak, Pastner has all the confidence in the world that his Tigers will be in the NCAA tournament.

“All we can do is control what we can control and that’s trying to win as many as we can,” Pastner said. “When you look at our numbers, who we’ve played, trying to play one of the toughest non-conference strength of schedules and we’ve done our job for the most part, in my estimation there’s no question we’re an NCAA tournament team. And anyone [who] says differently is ridiculous.”

With three games left --  two on the road against UCF and UTEP and a home matchup against University of Alabama at Birmingham -- Memphis has a small window of time to prove it is not paper or plastic Tigers.

Is Memphis the real deal? Make your voice heard in the comment section below or on Twitter @Hoopsoncbs. You can also follow Adena Andrews on Twitter @adena_andrews.

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