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Arizona vs. Memphis: Prestigious Programs Clash In 5/12 Matchup

With only hours to go before the Arizona Wildcats and the Memphis Tigers take the court in Tulsa, we figured it would be a good time to break down the match up and the key players involved.

Memphis (25-9) earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Conference-USA tournament, a 67-66 victory over the UTEP Miners. The Tigers are deep, with ten players consistently breaking into the rotation. With that in mind, Memphis does not have any one superstar that teams (or casual fans) can focus on.

The Tigers are led in scoring by Will Barton, a 6-6 freshman guard who averages 12.3 points a game. From a statistical perspective, Barton is a raw player, averaging only 70% from the free throw line and 27% from three point range.

The player Arizona (27-7) fans will want to pay closest attention to is Tarik Black, a 6-8 freshman forward that scores around nine points a game for Memphis. He is a solid size matchup for UA All-American Derrick Williams, and Black averages 1.6 blocks a contest.

Williams, Arizona's leading scorer and rebounder, has a lot riding on his shoulders in what could be his final NCAA Tournament as a Wildcat. In a season where Arizona did not have a ton of talent, Williams played at a high level the entire season, scoring double digits in 33 of Arizona's 34 games.

 There is another interesting angle to this pivotal game: Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is a former player and assistant coach at the University of Arizona. Pastner played under Lute Olson, and then was hired to coach alongside him from 2002 to 2008.

Pastner then decided to take an assistant job working with John Calipari in Memphis. When Calipari defected to coach the University of Kentucky, the opportunity finally came for Pastner, who has gone 49-19 in his two head coaching seasons. This is his first NCAA Tournament as a head coach. Sean Miller, Arizona's head coach, will be making his NCAA Tournament debut as the coach of the Wildcats.

The game will be broadcast Friday morning at 11:45 Arizona time on CBS. For more Arizona Wildcats coverage, be sure to check out AZ Desert Swarm.