RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU basketball program approaches every road game as a business trip. The much-anticipated Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November will be no different.
On Thursday, the Rams learned their first order of business for the trip with the release of the bracket and opening round match-ups for the Thanksgiving tournament. VCU will battle a highly-touted Memphis squad in the opener on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m on NBC Sports Network.
The first-round meeting will be the sixth all-time between the two schools with the Tigers taking the four of the first five showdowns. It will be the first game between the two since 1992, when Memphis defeated the Black & Gold 85-58.
VCU and Memphis are two of just four schools in the country to post at least 24 wins in each of the past six seasons, joined by Kansas and BYU.
Led by Josh Pastner, the Tigers return three of their top four scorers from a squad that went 26-9 last year and reached the NCAA Tournament, but dropped a 61-54 decision to Saint Louis in the Round of 64.
With the strong backcourt of Joe Jackson (11.0 ppg, 3.9 apg) and Chris Crawford (9.1 ppg, 3.8 apg), in addition to the interior presence of Tarik Black (10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Memphis has been picked by many national media as a preseason top-25 team entering the 2012-13 season.
If so, it would be the sixth year in a row that the Rams have faced off against a top-25 team during the regular season.
The three other opening round games include Missouri vs. Stanford, Duke vs. Minnesota and Louisville vs. Northern Iowa.
The eight teams in the 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis field combined have more than 160 NCAA postseason appearances.
AXS TV will air coverage of the tournament at 1:00 pm ET and 3:30 pm ET, while NBC Sports will broadcast the daily 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm games starting on November 22 (please check your local listings). AXS TV is available nationally on DirecTV (channel 306), Dish (channel 131), AT&T U-Verse (channel 1106), Verizon FiOS (channel 569) as well as Charter, Comcast Xfinity, Insight, Suddenlink and other TV providers.