NCAA tournament expert and former NBA star Charles Barkley has picked Memphis to upset No. 1 seed Purdue in the second round of the tournament. Barkley made the bold prediction while declaring Alabama and Houston as the top-two teams in the field.
Purdue, who finished the season with a record of 29-5, has been assigned the top seed in their bracket, but Barkley isn't convinced of their ability to make a deep run in the tournament. The Boilermakers dropped six games during a tough February stretch, which may have contributed to Barkley's lack of faith in them.
Memphis, on the other hand, has been a team on the rise in recent weeks. The Tigers won the AAC title with a convincing victory over Houston and gave Alabama a scare in a road loss earlier in the season. With a No. 8 seed and a ranking of No. 19 in KenPom.com's overall efficiency ratings, the Tigers may have what it takes to pull off the upset.
Memphis Faces Tough Road Ahead
However, Memphis will first have to get past Florida Atlantic in Friday night's opening-round matchup to set up a clash with Purdue. The Tigers have won nine of their last 11 games, with their only two losses coming against Houston. Memphis has been playing some of their best basketball down the stretch, and their confidence is sure to be high heading into the tournament.
Purdue, meanwhile, will be looking to avoid an even bigger upset when they face the winner of Wednesday's play-in game between Farleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern. With Barkley picking against them, the Boilermakers will have added motivation to prove him wrong and make a deep run in the tournament.