Cards have backcourt edge over Tigers

Luke Hancock and Russ Smith give Louisville the top backcourt in the country. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When Michael Dixon was cleared by the NCAA to play for coach Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers this past week, it didn’t take long for the debate to begin.

Tigers fans wanted to proclaim their foursome as the elite backcourt in America -- and they certainly had a strong case. Dixon, Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford and Geron Johnson are all seniors and proven commodities.

Jackson has scored more than 1,200 points in his career thus far and has in excess of 400 assists. Dixon also has 1,000-plus points, and he averaged 13.5 points two seasons ago despite coming off the bench for Mizzou. Crawford is approaching 1,000 career points, and Johnson -- a former junior college player -- averaged in double figures in his first season in the D-I ranks.

They are all fast and different. The primary question will be how Pastner is able to keep all four content minutes-wise since there is no Randy Foye in the bunch (none of these guys can effectively defend a power forward as Foye did for Villanova's four-guard lineup a few seasons ago).

It’s impossible to dispute the fact that Pastner has one of the most potent perimeter corps in America.

But it’s not No. 1. I’m still taking the Louisville backcourt group over the veteran crew in Memphis, and the Cardinals as the top team in the American Athletic Conference.