- Wichita State is a four-point favorite over Memphis in an early-season AAC showdown
- Memphis should have DJ Jeffries back in the lineup as he recovers from the flu
- Sophomore guard Erik Stevenson leads a balanced Wichita State team
No. 21 Memphis (12-2, 1-0 AAC) is a four-point road underdog against No. 23 Wichita State (13-1, 1-0 AAC) in their meeting on Thursday (Jan. 9, 7:00 PM ET) at Charles Koch Arena.
Tigers freshman forward DJ Jeffries is expected to return after sitting out the previous game with the flu.
#21 Memphis vs #23 Wichita State Odds
|Memphis||+4 (-110)||Over 140.5 (-115)|
|Wichita State||-4 (-110)||Under 140.5 (-105)|
Odds taken Jan. 8.
Memphis is coming off of a 68-65 loss at home to Georgia in a non-conference game last Saturday (Jan. 3), the Wildcats’ worst performance of the season. That ended the Tigers’ 10-game winning streak and came with Jeffries sidelined. It also caused Memphis to fall 12 spots in the Associated Press poll.
One of four freshman starters, Jeffries is second on the team in scoring (12.0 PPG) and rebounding (4.7 RPG).
Wichita State has won seven games in a row since taking its lone loss of the season, 75-63 to West Virginia on Nov. 27 in the Cancun Classic in Mexico. The Shockers seem ready for the challenge of playing the AAC favorite.
"It's a fun matchup. That's why you join this league. That's why the American Athletic Conference makes sense for us." – Gregg Marshall
Read up on what Coach Marshall said at his press conference ahead of the Memphis game ⬇️https://t.co/w8IXF8LCDV
— Wichita State Men's Basketball (@GoShockersMBB) January 7, 2020
The spread has held steady since the Memphis vs Wichita State odds opened but the over has climbed to 140.5.
Memphis Freshmen Shining
Jeffries is part of what was considered the best recruiting class in the country in the last cycle. Five of Memphis’ top six players are freshmen, and that doesn’t include the best of the bunch: 7-foot-1 center James Wiseman, who played just three games before being suspended and then leaving school to prepare for the NBA Draft.
The top freshman has been forward Precious Achiuwa, who is averaging a double-double with 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds. Despite dealing with a broken hand that has kept him out of four games, freshman guard Lester Quinones is averaging 11.0 points per game.
However, with youth comes inconsistency. Memphis is averaging more turnovers than assists (16.8-16.2) and shooting just 67.6 percent from the free-throw line (243rd in the country).
Balanced Wichita State
Wichita State looks like a threat to win the American Athletic in its third season since moving from the Missouri Valley, thanks in part to Erik Stevenson. The sophomore guard is averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocked shots per game.
On ? last week. #WatchUs
— Wichita State Men's Basketball (@GoShockersMBB) January 6, 2020
After winning at least 30 games in four of its last five seasons in the MVC, Wichita State went 25-8 and made the NCAA Tournament in its first season in the AAC. However, the Shockers’ extremely young team went just 22-15 last season and played in the NIT.
Now a year more experienced, Stevenson and company have gotten Wichita State back to its winning ways. The deep roster has 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes a game, enabling them to wear down opponents with their typically physical brand of defense.
Sophomore guard Jamarius Burton and freshman guard Tyson Etienne are both averaging 10.5 points per game. Burton is also shooting 50 percent from three and dishing out 3.9 assists a game.
Here are how the teams match up in some of the key KenPom.com categories
|103.8 (103rd)||Adjusted offensive efficiency||104.8 (84th)|
|88.1 (15th)||Adjusted offensive efficiency||88.5 (17th)|
|75.7 (9th)||Adjusted tempo||70.3 (141st)|
Similar Against-the-Spread Records
Both teams have nearly identical records against the spread this season as Wichita State is 8-5-1 and Memphis is 8-6.
The Shockers knocked off the Tigers 85-65 as an eight-point road underdog during the 2017-18 season. However, Memphis won both meetings last season, posting an 85-74 home triumph as a 5.5-point favorite and notching an 88-85 victory as a 4.5-point road underdog.
However, Memphis has almost an entirely different team this season as 84 percent of the Tigers’ scoring from last season’s two wins has departed. Conversely, Wichita State returns 62 percent of its scoring.
While it seems intuitive to lean toward an experienced team playing at home in a pivotal game, it is impossible to deny Memphis’ talent. Take the Tigers to bounce back from the clunker against Georgia.
Pick: Memphis +4 (-110)
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