Michigan faces Memphis in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis today (5:00 p.m, ESPN2) in a matchup of two programs led by former NBA stars who haven’t coached their teams yet this season. Offseason heart surgery has sidelined Juwan Howard, while Penny Hardaway served a three-game suspension for recruiting violations to open the season.
The Tigers come in roaring at 3-0 and feel slighted that they weren’t picked to win the American and aren’t ranked in the top 25. Michigan comes in at a crossroads, trying to put an ugly buy-game loss behind itself and prove that its 3-0 start is closer to reality.
It’s the sort of opening game of a multi-team event where we think we know much more about both teams than we actually do. And one where the result comes down to who can better handle playing amidst the outside noise of a tropical paradise surrounded by water parks and casinos on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving.