Memphis Tigers vs. Wichita State Shockers Pick 1/9/20
Memphis Tigers (12-2 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. Wichita State Shockers (13-1 SU, 8-5-1 ATS)
When: Thursday, January 9, 7 p.m.
Where: Koch Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Point Spread: MEM +4.5 / WICH -4.5 (MyBookie)
Total: O/U 140.5
Last Time Out:
Memphis lost 65-62 to Georgia; Wichita State handled Mississippi 74-54.
Scouting the Tigers:
Memphis seemed to be on its way to romping through the American, but a non-league game with Georgia brought the Tigers crashing back to earth. On the one hand, Memphis absolutely gave this game away, as it missed nearly half of its free throws in a three-point loss. On the other, that’s a sign of a mentally fragile and inexperienced team, and that’s not where you want to be going into Wichita.
Granted, Memphis also didn’t want to be without James Wiseman, but that’s beyond the Tigers’ con-trol. With Wiseman already off to the pros, Precious Achiuwa and Lester Quinones have had to step up and carry the load, and losing D.J. Jeffries against Georgia to the flu didn’t help matters. The Tigers will likely be down Damion Baugh for this game, as Baugh has also caught the flu and could not prac-tice during the week.
Scouting the Shockers:
Quietly, Wichita State has built itself back into a Top 25 outfit and has done it without the kind of well-known talent that got the Shockers to a Final Four a few years ago. They’ve also done it without an offense, as Wichita State shoots just 42.9 percent from the field, hardly what you would expect from a top 25 team out of the American. But the way the Shockers win is with defense, as only Oklahoma and West Virginia have managed to break 70 points against them, and both of those teams had to shoot above 40 percent from the perimeter to do it.
Erik Stevenson is the closest thing the Shockers have to a real scorer, but with a shooting percentage of only 41.8 percent, he isn’t likely to take over games and lead his team to a win with his offense. For Wichita State to get a result, it has to lock down its opponents.
Blackout. This is the game that Wichita State has been waiting forever since the Shockers left the Mis-souri Valley behind for the American. Even though the Valley has put a team in the Final Four (Loyola) and the American hasn’t since Wichita State’s departure, this kind of game wasn’t possible for the Shockers ever since Creighton left the Valley for the Big East. Wichita State is planning its first black-out game since the Bluejays departed, and Memphis is the kind of opponent that can excite the Koch Arena crowd. The question is, will the Tigers be ready to play in this type of game so soon after losing to Georgia?
Memphis will Cover if:
The Tigers can take care of the basketball. Memphis’ game is all about forcing mistakes and making sure not to make mistakes of its own. The Tigers average more than nine steals per game, but against Georgia, Memphis couldn’t stop turning the ball over, giving it away 16 times and offsetting the Bull-dogs’ mistakes. The Tigers have to punish Wichita State errors without making their own mistakes if they’re going to win this game because the Shockers don’t shoot it well enough to overcome turno-vers.
Wichita State will Cover if:
The Shockers can avoid turning the game into a free throw contest. That might seem a bit odd, given that Memphis just managed to lose a game with poor foul shooting, and Wichita State is at home, but the Shockers also don’t shoot the ball very well from the stripe. Wichita State is just 68 percent from the line, and that’s not going to be enough to close a game out. The Shockers have to get the job done on defense and stymie the Memphis attack.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Memphis has gotten all the attention, but Wichita State looks like the real deal at this point. As we’ve seen all season, defense has been the way that teams win this season. Wichita State has been able to keep scores down against good teams all season, and Memphis has a tough task facing a fired-up home crowd. I don’t think Memphis is prepared to play this type of game, and I think Gregg Marshall has a significant edge in the coaching matchup, as he’s been here before, and Penny Hardaway has not.
I’ve got to go with experience and the home team here. Give me the Shockers.