Memphis Tigers with "Nothing to Lose"

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Tip-off against the number-one team in the land is 9 pm. Catch it on ESPN if you’re not heading up I-55 to St. Louis.

I’ve tried to remember the last time the Memphis Tiger basketball team had “nothing to lose,” that age-old brand that pronounces a team not just an underdog, but a three-legged, one-eyed underdog with a crooked tail. (I’ve been cranking up the great KISS song — from their first album — to inspire.)

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One possibility is the 2005 C-USA Championship game at FedExForum (the Darius Washington game), but with an NCAA tournament berth on the line, there was MUCH to lose that day against the heavily favored Louisville Cardinals.

An unranked Tiger team led by Antonio Burks and Sean Banks faced 6th-ranked Louisville on February 4, 2004 . . . and won. But that was a home game, and the 6th consecutive win for the Tigers in a streak that would reach 11.

The last time the U of M went on the road in what might be called a hopeless situation was March 3, 2002. The Tigers were an underwhelming 22-7, their offense running almost entirely through freshman Dajuan Wagner. They managed to take the 4th-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats to overtime before losing, 80-75. Four weeks later, Memphis won the NIT championship.

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