OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Seventh-seeded Memphis makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1996 when it meets No. 10 Arizona State in a first-round West Region matchup on Thursday.
Memphis (23-6) is back in the tournament for the first time in coach John Calipari's three seasons. The Tigers won the National Invitation Tournament championship a year ago before star guard Dajuan Wagner bolted to the NBA.
The emergence of Chris Massie has been a big factor in Memphis' surge. Massie missed the first seven games because he was ineligible due to participating in NBA draft camp a year ago. He has boosted his NBA credentials by averaging 16.5 points and 10.7 rebounds.
Memphis saw a 12-game winning streak end with a difficult 78-75 loss to Louisville in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament. Massie did not score and fouled out in 22 minutes.
The Tigers also feature one of the quickest point guards in the country in Antonio Burks, who has logged the most minutes on the team. Burks' backcourt mate is Anthony Rice, although freshman Jeremy Hunt has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season.
Arizona State (19-11) finished fourth in the Pac-10 Conference and it was good enough to gain its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1995. That season, the Sun Devils reached the "Sweet 16" before losing to Kentucky.
Freshman power forward Ike Diogu leads the way for the Sun Devils after he punished opponents, averaging 19.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Diogu was a unanimous selection for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors and set school freshman records for points (572), baskets (195), rebounds (237) and minutes (966).
The rest of the Sun Devils' lineup consists of four seniors. Curtis Millage is the best of the group and averages 16.2 points even though he is a poor foul shooter.
The teams are meeting for first time since the 1992-93 season.
The winner will face Kansas or Utah State in the second round.