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How Are Sportsbooks Reacting to James Wiseman Eligibility Mayhem? Memphis’ Nat’l Title Odds +1400

James Wiseman fist pump
Memphis Tigers star James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA on Friday. Photo from @BleacherReport (Twitter).
  • Memphis’ James Wiseman was ruled ineligible by the NCAA on Friday
  • He was able to play on Friday due to a temporary restraining order on the NCAA’s ruling
  • Wiseman is viewed as the projected top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft

It was a wild Friday night in Memphis as ESPN’s senior NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowki dropped one of his signature “Woj bombs” on Twitter. He announced that Memphis’ James Wiseman, the projected top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. While the fight is just beginning, how has it impacted the odds?

2020 NCAA Tournament Odds at BetOnline

Team Odds at BetOnline
Michigan State +700
Kentucky +800
Duke +1000
Kansas +1200
Memphis +1400
Louisville +1400
North Carolina +1600
Florida +1600
Virginia +2000
Villanova +2000
Gonzaga +2000

*Odds updated November 9.

Wiseman Ruled Ineligible by NCAA

Just as the Memphis Tigers were set to play their second game of the season, they found out their star center would likely be ruled ineligible by the NCAA because head coach Penny Hardaway gave the family money in 2017. An emergency temporary restraining order allowed Wiseman to play on Friday night but that was just a short-term stay.

The issue stems from when Hardaway was a high school basketball coach in 2017 and helped Wiseman’s family move to Memphis. He gave the family $11,500 to cover the expenses. Wiseman didn’t know about it. However, the NCAA views this as an “impermissible recruiting activity”.

Wiseman has only played two games so far this season and the games have come against South Carolina State and the UIC Flames, but he’s already looked like a dominant star in the college game. He has averaged 22.5 points per game along with 10 rebounds while shooting an incredible 83.3% from the field.

How Will The Odds Change?

At this point, it is still a great unknown. Prior to the news breaking, Memphis’ 2020 March Madness odds were at +1000 but we haven’t seen much of a change. Bovada and MyBookie, which had Memphis at +1000, are still there. BetOnline had them at +1400 and that’s where they still are.

That’s not a huge drop as it looks like the oddsmakers are being cautious. Remember, there are a number of scenarios that could happen. If Wiseman was a scrub, he’d be ruled ineligible and that would be the end of his season. Given the fact that he’s a star and this is now a national story, things may play out differently.

If the NCAA digs in, it’s likely to receive a ton of blowback. The public’s perception here is that Hardaway helped a family who was not necessarily well-off and he wasn’t even the head coach of the Memphis Tigers at the time. It’s not as if he dangled $50,000 for Wiseman in return for joining the Memphis program.

The other concern here is that Memphis decided to play Wiseman even though they know he’s probably going to be suspended. That’s unprecedented. Typically, the player will sit out. The NCAA does have a rule where they could ban Memphis from the postseason – if they so choose.

At the same time, this is one of the NCAA’s brightest young stars. Their on-court product will benefit from him playing this season and Memphis being competitive. They don’t win here if they ban him. So maybe what’s possible is that the family is forced to repay the $11,500 and Wiseman is forced to serve a sizeable suspension.

That’s why it seems like the oddsmakers are being cautious. If he was, in fact, banned for the season, Memphis’ odds would probably tumble to +2000 or longer. However, they might suspend him for 20 games and he could still be back in time for the NCAA Tournament, which means Memphis’ odds shouldn’t be impacted that much.

What’s The Best Bet?

At this point, it only makes sense to see how this plays out. He’s expected to be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, so he is a significant player in the college basketball landscape. You don’t want to place your bets here guessing whether he will or won’t be playing. Wait and see the verdict before making your decision.

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