Source: AP Photos
The basketball world has been glued to the college game over the past few weeks as chaos has reigned (for the most part), hearts have been broken, and slippers have been doled out in the NCAA Tournament. With the Final Four coming up this weekend, I wanted to take a look at which Memphis Grizzlies made the most of their NCAA Tournament appearances.
As the “Goon Squad” continues to scrape together spare parts for this upcoming Gasol-less playoff run, more and more D-League players keep popping up on the roster, several of which have been notable “oh, it’s that guy” types I remembered from college basketball.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see how the current batch of Grizzlies fared on college basketball’s biggest stage.
With all due respect to Briante Weber, who I fully believe should have earned another 10-day contract at the least, only players on the current roster are included. Perhaps thankfully for Memphis residents, that means minimal mentions of Mario Chalmers’ game-winner against the Tigers.
After winning the Big 12 Player of the Year for the 2003-04 season (this current injury-depleted Grizz squad isn’t the first time Allen has been the first option on offense), The Grindfather himself was an integral part of a memorable tournament run from the two-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Before falling to National Championship-bound Georgia Tech 67-65 in the Final Four, the Cowboys knocked off undefeated and number one overall seed St. Joseph’s (shoutout to Delonte West) 64-62 in an instant classic Elite Eight matchup.
Allen was solid throughout as the only Cowboy to score in double-figures every game, including 23 against a 31-win Pittsburgh team in the Sweet Sixteen.
In both his sophomore and junior seasons, Vince Carter and the North Carolina Tar Heels fell in the national semifinals as one-seeds.
Carter posted double-digit scoring performances in nine of the 10 games in the two Final Four runs, including exactly 21 in both of the losses. The All-American was his team’s leading scorer in the loss to eventual champion Arizona in ’97 and Utah in ’98.
Jordan Farmer/Ryan Hollins:
Farmar and Hollins were key contributors on the first of back-to-back UCLA Final Four teams in 2006.
The Bruins fell to a similarly-stacked Florida squad in the National Championship, but not before completing a frantic comeback against Adam Morrison’s Gonzaga causing Morrison’s now infamous on-court meltdown. Farmar scored 15 and dished out six assists in the win, while Hollins banged his way to 12 points and eight boards.
Conley made the most of his only season at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes made it all the way to the finals before becoming the latest casualties of the Noah/Horford/Brewer Florida Gators.
In a memorable Sweet Sixteen 85-84 victory over Tennessee, Conley went for 17-7-6-2 steals and hit the game-winning free throw.
Barnes is the only player on the roster to have participated in four NCAA Tournaments.
During his senior season, Barnes dropped a 17-8-11-3-1 statline to help the eight-seeded Bruins take down the one-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats in the second round 105-101 before falling to Missouri in the Sweet Sixteen.
Tom Izzo’s usual March heroics came through as the top-seeded Spartans made it all the way to the Final Four in Z-Bo’s only season in college. Randolph scored in double-figures in two of five games as the team’s sixth man off the bench.
Wright was another one-and-done who was a solid, if not spectacular, contributor on a stacked one-seed. His UNC squad reached the Elite Eight before falling to Georgetown.
In the Sweet Sixteen, Wright notched 21 points and nine rebounds against a USC squad featuring Nick Young and Taj Gibson.
In his only tournament, Adams reeled off scoring outputs of 21, 19, and 17 as UCLA avoided a pair of upsets against Tulsa and 2016’s tournament darlings Stephen F. Austin before being knocked out by top-seeded Florida.
Hairston and the Tar Heels were knocked out by Kansas in consecutive seasons. He was sparingly used in their run to the Elite Eight during his freshman year, but was the second-leading scorer when they fell to the Jayhawks in his sophomore campaign.
JaMychal Green/Jarell Martin:
Oddly enough, both Green and Martin only had one appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Both players’ teams lost by one point as a ninth-seeded SEC school in the 8-9 game.
Despite being a somewhat trendy choice to upset two-seeded Kansas in 2012, McCallum and the Detroit Titans lost 65-50 and Ray, Jr. only had eight points.