- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Plenty of people seem to be disrespecting the George Washington Colonials.

Their first-round opponent guaranteed two NCAA tournament wins. The NCAA’s official tournament T-shirts bore the logo of a cross-town rival instead of theirs.

And President Barack Obama picked Memphis to beat GW even though Colonials coach Mike Lonergan quipped Thursday that “his house is right down the street from our campus.”

Ninth-seeded GW (24-8) plays No. 8 seed Memphis (23-9) on Friday in the second round of the East Regional.

One of the challenges for the Colonials is tuning everything else out - from those shirts that celebrate a tournament invitation for Georgetown, Obama’s pick of the Tigers or Memphis guard Geron Johnson’s guarantee after the American Athletic Conference tournament that his team would win two games here.

After the Tigers lost to Connecticut in the AAC quarterfinals, Johnson said, “We will win two games next week … and you can put my statement on that.”

Johnson said Thursday it’s more about “you’ve got to say it to believe it” than a jab, while GW guard Maurice Creek brushed off Johnson’s guarantee. Lonergan said he was joking with Obama and wasn’t trying to disrespect him.

“We’ve had some things happen with the logos and stuff,” GW guard Joe McDonald said. “We’re not worried about that. We’re trying to focus on what got us here and continue to have the success.”

The Colonials earned their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007 after they outperformed their modest preseason expectations and beat Creighton, Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth and Massachusetts.

Memphis enters the tournament after falling out of the Top 25 for the first time this season.

That came during a slide in which the Tigers dropped three of five to end the season - including a 72-53 thumping at the hands of UConn in the league tournament.

“We’ve been kind of a little bit up and down in the stretch,” coach Josh Pastner said. “… I just think you get here in a one-game situation, anything can happen. I really believe if you make shots and make 3s and you defend the 3, you’re probably going to advance. And if you don’t make 3s and you don’t defend the 3 well, then the plane ride is going to be going back Saturday morning.”

___

Here are five things to watch during the George Washington-Memphis tournament matchup:

COLONIAL TURNAROUND: George Washington had one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation. The Colonials were 13-17 in 2012-13 and their 11-win improvement matched the third-best in Division I.

Story Continues →