Memphis Tigers: A Team to Root For

Chris ScheiCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 19:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers yells from the sideline during their  first round game against the CSUN Matadors in the first half of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 19, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Matadors 81-70. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As human beings, we tend to root for the underdog. We root for the team that shouldn't necessarily be playing with the "big boys," but is giving it their all anyway.

I also root for teams that get looked down upon or very rarely receive praise. I root for teams that consistently get the "shaft" when it comes to postseason basketball.

And there is no team that meets that criteria like the Memphis Tigers.

This season marked the third straight year that Memphis won 25 games in a row. In those three years, they have been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament exactly once.

In those three years, they have been to the Elite Eight twice, the Final Four once, and to the National Championship once.

But for some reason, both fans and pundits alike enjoy talking about how "overrated" the Tigers are. They love talking about how they would be just another average team in any power conference.

Looking back at the last two NCAA Tournaments, I doubt an "average team from a power conference" could get to two straight Elite Eights. They certainly wouldn't be found in a National Championship game.

Last season, Memphis destroyed every team in their path to the National Championship only to listen to ridiculous criticism.

A few years ago, coach John Calipari was not happy with his team receiving a No. 2 seed; he thought his team deserved a top bid. He voiced his displeasure at that slight, as well as his displeasure at a possible Elite Eight match-up with UCLA just 20 miles from the Bruins' campus.

The next season, Memphis made sure that the NCAA Tournament Committee would have no excuses to give them anything but a one seed.

In the middle of the year, Calipari made a joke, saying that in the NCAA Tournament, Memphis would be playing Texas in the Elite Eight. He said with a sly smile that Texas would be a two seed and that the game would be in Texas.

A few short months later, what do you know? Memphis is playing the second-seeded Longhorns in the round of eight in the Horns' home state.

It's befuddling that UCLA gets to play in their home state in the first four rounds two years in a row while poor little Memphis has to travel around the country.

Is it because Calipari is perceived as arrogant? If it is, then why is Phil Mickelson, the biggest jerk on the PGA Tour, is one of the most popular golfers?

Or is the reason for the injustice that this great team plays in a non-power conference? If it is, then why was Davidson the darling of college basketball this past season?

What is it about Memphis that people don't like?