March Madness

Latest 2025 March Madness bracket shows Penny Hardaway’s Memphis basketball roster improving

Latest 2025 March Madness bracket shows Penny Hardaway's Memphis basketball roster improving

Whether the work Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway has done − and will do − this offseason yields March Madness magnificence remains to be seen.

But, if Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket projection is any indication, the confidence inspired by the Tigers’ work-in-progress roster restoration extends beyond Tiger Nation.

Lunardi, ESPN’s bracketologist-in-residence, released his updated outlook for the 2025 NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Memphis was a No. 11 seed in his first forecast of the offseason last month. This time around, Lunardi moved the Tigers up to an 8-seed.

He also has Memphis pegged as the American Athletic Conference champion, giving the Tigers the automatic bid, and made them the only AAC team in the projected field. No other AAC team is even on Lunardi’s updated bubble.

Hardaway has been busy since Lunardi revealed his first bracket of the offseason April 17. Since securing commitments from transfers PJ Haggerty, Dain Dainja and Colby Rogers before that, the Tigers have landed pledges from former Texas guard Tyrese Hunter and former George Mason guard Baraka Okojie.

All-AAC wing David Jones is testing the NBA Draft waters, but he has maintained his collegiate eligibility and Hardaway has repeatedly expressed optimism regarding Jones’ chances of returning. Forward Nicholas Jourdain is also expected to be back for a second season at Memphis.

The new developments − likely along with some fluctuation elsewhere in Lunardi’s projection − were enough to bump the Tigers up multiple seed lines.

Lunardi’s new bracket also reflects how strong Memphis’ non-conference schedule (which has not been finalized) is shaping up to be. Ten of its 13 non-AAC games have been settled: Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Missouri (all at home), road games with UNLV, Clemson and Virginia, a neutral-site date with San Francisco, and the 2024 Maui Invitational.

Lunardi has Ole Miss earning a 7-seed, Mississippi State slotted in as a No. 9 and Missouri as the first team out of the field. Clemson, which reached the Elite Eight, is in as a 9-seed, while and San Francisco is on the bubble (next four out). Virginia is not included in the new projection.

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Every team in the Maui Invitational (Nov. 25-27), except Colorado, is a projected NCAA Tournament team, according to Lunardi. Two-time defending national champion UConn (a No. 1 seed) is an automatic qualifier as Big East champ, while Auburn is a 3-seed for Lunardi. North Carolina and Iowa State are projected 2-seeds, while Michigan State is a No. 5 seed. Dayton, as the projected Atlantic 10 champ, is forecast as a 10-seed.

While the Maui Invitational bracket has not been set, Memphis will play three games against the field there.

Reach sports writer Jason Munz at jason.munz@commercialappeal.com or follow him @munzly on X, the social media app formerly known as Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis basketball rises in latest 2025 March Madness bracket update

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