NCAAB Betting Preview for Memphis vs Wichita State

NCAAB Betting Preview for Memphis vs Wichita State article feature image
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Pictured: Kendric Davis #3 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Memphis vs Wichita State Odds

Thursday, Feb. 23
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Memphis Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-2
-110
148
-110o / -110u
-135
Wichita State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+2
-110
148
-110o / -110u
+115
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

How do you handicap Memphis without Kendric Davis?

With Davis off the court, Memphis becomes non-functional — especially on offense. While the Tigers were able to compete with Houston in his absence, I'm worried about the Tigers' future without him.

Keep an eye on the injury report as Davis is still listed as questionable at the time of this writing.

The Tigers are visiting Wichita State on Thursday evening. The Shockers are 7-7 in league play with the league's sixth-best offense and seventh-best defense.

Much of this handicap will come down to Davis' health, but there are other ways to break down the matchup.


Memphis Tigers

How important is Davis to the Tigers?

With Davis, Memphis is one of the better offenses in the AAC. Without him, the Tigers become one of the most inefficient offenses in the AAC.

Image credit: Hoop Explorer

With Davis in the fold, Memphis is a dangerous up-tempo offense. The Tigers run at the second-highest pace in the American and spend the highest percentage of plays in transition.

For the most part, Memphis is efficient in transition. But, again, Davis is the Tigers' on-the-run signal caller.

Memphis should still be able to pressure the rim. Few teams nationally get to the rim and finish like Memphis, with DeAndre Williams and Elijah McCadden carrying the team on the interior.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

Memphis can run and play downhill thanks to its small-ball lineup, generally running 6-foot-5 at the four and 6-foot-9 at the five. Of course, that leaves the Tigers vulnerable defensively on the interior.

In fact, the Tigers get shredded on the interior. They're arguably the worst rim-protecting defense in the AAC, mostly because neither Williams nor Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu is a plus defender.

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Wichita State Shockers

Stopping Memphis is about stopping the Tigers in transition and keeping them out of the lane.

So, how do the Shockers fare in those areas?

The good news is Wichita State is an elite transition defense. The Shockers have the best transition defense in the conference, per ShotQuality, and rank above the 90th percentile nationally in transition PPP allowed, per Synergy.

The other good news is the Shockers are great at protecting the rim. They have decent size behind Kenny Pohto and are top-50 nationally in FG% allowed at the rim.

The bad news is the Shockers funnel everyone to the rim while allowing many 3-point shots. Wichita State is excellent at defending those two areas, so it's almost a plus, but the Shockers have a very poor profile from an analytical perspective.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

But while the Shockers can keep opponents out of transition, their offense relies on transition buckets. Wichita State stalls in the half-court, mostly because of lousy shooting.

You'd think Wichita State's 29.7% 3-point percentage would be bad luck and that positive regression is coming. But the Shockers' ShotQuality metrics show they're bottom-300 in both Open 3 Rate and Shot Making. This team is simply lousy at shooting.


Memphis vs. Wichita State Betting Pick

Davis' potential absence seems to be baked into the line as KenPom has this spread as Memphis -5 despite the market consensus being Memphis -3.

That said, I'm all in on Wichita State if Davis doesn't play.

The Tigers' offense will halt in the half-court without their point general. Penny Hardaway's only reprieve will be running the floor, where the Shockers will be waiting with the league's best transition defense.

Conversely, Wichita State must get out in transition and pressure the rim against Memphis' lackadaisical interior defense. If Davis is injured, I think Memphis' horrendous ball-handling from last year will flash its ugly head and the Shockers will see more transition opportunities than usual.

Additionally, it's not the best schedule spot for Memphis. While the Tigers are off a loss, they're in a sandwich spot between Houston and a home game with Cincinnati.

However, if Davis does play, Memphis -3 is a steal. But I'd expect the market to adjust a few points, and then this game is likely a stay away.

Pick: Wichita State +3 or Better IF Kendric Davis Doesn't Play

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