This was supposed to be a breakthrough season for Penny Hardaway. And it still might be. Long way to go. But there's no denying it's off to a nightmare of a start considering Memphis is now on a four-game losing streak featuring nothing but losses to teams ranked 50th or worse at KenPom.
The Tigers are 5-4.
"We still have an opportunity to right the ship," Hardaway said during his radio show on Monday night — and he's obviously correct. But opportunities to build an at-large resume for the NCAA Tournament will be few and far between once the Tigers enter the AAC portion of their schedule, which is why this week is a massive two-game stretch for Hardaway's program.
On Tuesday night, the Tigers host Alabama. On Saturday, they'll play Tennessee. That's two games in a five-day span against the teams ranked No. 7 and No. 16 in Tuesday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. If Memphis wins both games, the season just might flip. If Memphis splits the two games, it'll at least have something to build on. But if the Tigers actually lose both games this week, drop to 5-6, and create the program's first six-game losing streak since Tic Price was the coach in the 1998-99 season, well, it'll honestly be difficult for anybody to remain encouraged about this team that was ranked ninth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll just three weeks ago.
Meantime, everybody is encouraged about Alabama
Alabama is entering Tuesday night's game with Memphis on a four-game winning streak featuring victories over Gonzaga and Houston. The reigning SEC regular-season champion and SEC Tournament champion looks capable of repeating despite losing four of the top six scorers from last season's team that made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Alabama is terrific offensively thanks largely to a quartet of guards led by Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis, each of whom is averaging at least 11.2 points. McDonald's All-American JD Davison is coming off the bench and averaging 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists. In other words, Nate Oats has a four-guard rotation as good as anybody's. So it'll be interesting to see how Memphis counters Alabama's attack, and whether the Tigers can score enough to avoid a five-game losing streak that would send this once-promising season further into despair.
Alabama-Memphis is scheduled to tip at 9 p.m. ET.
You can watch it on ESPN.
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Top 25 And 1 rankings
|James Akinjo finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Sunday's 57-36 win over Villanova. The Bears' next game is Saturday at Oregon.||--||9-0|
|Duke was outscored 14-1 in the final five minutes of Tuesday's 71-66 loss at Ohio State. The Blue Devils' next game is Tuesday against South Carolina State.||--||5-3|
|Jamie Jaquez finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's 67-56 win at Marquette. The Bruins' next game is Wednesday against Alabama State.||--||5-2|
|Trevion Williams finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in Sunday's 82-72 overtime win over NC State. The Boilermakers' next game is Saturday against Butler.||--||8-1|
|Chet Holmgren finished with 15 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in Thursday's 80-55 win over Merrimack. The Zags' next game is Saturday against Texas Tech.||--||7-1|
|Bennedict Mathurin finished with 30 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 83-79 win at Illinois. The Wildcats' next game is Wednesday against Northern Colorado.||--||7-0|
|Juwan Gary finished with 19 points annd four rebounds in Saturday's 83-82 win over Houston. The Crimson Tide's next game is Tuesday at Memphis.||--||6-2|
|Ochai Agbaji finished with 21 points and four rebounds in Saturday's 102-65 win over Missouri. The Jayhawks' next game is Saturday against Stephen F. Austin.||--||8-1|
|Gabe Brown finished with 15 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 80-64 win over Penn State. The Spartans' next game is Tuesday against Oakland.||--||4-4|
|Villanova shot 22.2% from the field in Sunday's 57-36 loss at Baylor. The Wildcats' next game is Friday at Creighton.||--||6-4|
|Jabari Smith finished with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in Saturday's 99-68 win over Nebraska. The Tigers' next game is Tuesday against North Alabama.||--||5-2|
|Drew Peterson finished with 15 points and three rebounds in Sunday's 73-62 win over Long Beach State. The Trojans' next game is Wednesday against UC Irvine.||--||5-3|
|Aljaz Kunc finished with 12 points and five rebounds in Sunday's 47-37 win over Jackson State. The Cyclones' next game is Sunday against Southeastern Louisiana.||--||7-2|
|Terrence Shannon finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds in Tuesday's 57-52 overtime win over Tennessee. The Red Raiders' next game is Tuesday against Arkansas State.||--||6-2|
|Houston allowed the Crimson Tide to shoot 52.0% from the field in Saturday's 83-82 loss at Alabama. The Cougars' next game is Tuesday against Louisiana.||--||9-0|
|Josiah-Jordan James finished with 12 points and four rebounds in Saturday's 76-36 win over UNC Greensboro. The Vols' next game is Tuesday against USC Upstate.||--||5-3|
|Dawson Garcia finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 80-63 win over Elon. The Tar Heels' next game is Tuesday against Furman.||--||7-2|
|E.J. Liddell finished with 28 points and nine rebounds in Saturday's 73-55 win over Wisconsin. The Badgers' next game is Saturday against Kentucky.||--||8-1|
|Bryce Aiken finished with 22 points and three assists in Sunday's 77-63 win over Rutgers. The Pirates' next game is Saturday against Iona.||--||5-3|
|Tari Eason finished with 23 points and six rebounds in Saturday's 69-53 win at Georgia Tech. The Tigers' next game is Tuesday against Northwestern State.||--||5-3|
|R.J. Cole finished with 15 points and five rebounds in Saturday's 74-64 win over St. Bonaventure. The Huskies' next game is Saturday against Providence.||--||8-1|
|Texas missed 12 of the 13 3-pointers it attempted in Thursday's 64-60 loss at Seton Hall. The Longhorns' next game is Tuesday against Arkansas Pine Bluff.||--||6-2|
|Jack Nunge finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds in Saturday's 83-63 win over Cincinnati. The Musketeers' next game is Wednesday against Morehead State.||--||4-5|
|David Roddy finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's 66-63 win over Mississippi State. The Rams' next game is Saturday against Tulsa.||--||9-0|
|Wisconsin missed 20 of the 26 3-pointers it attempted in Saturday's 73-55 loss at Ohio State. The Badgers' next game is Wednesday against Nicholls State.||--||7-2|
|Braden Norris finished with 18 points and nine assists in Friday's 69-58 victory at Vanderbilt. The Ramblers' next game is Dec. 19 against Norfolk State.||--||5-4|