Memphis vs. Wichita State Odds, Picks & Predictions: College Basketball Betting Preview
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images. Pictured: Morris Udeze (Wichita State)
Memphis vs. Wichita State Odds
-115o / -105u
|Wichita State Odds|
-115o / -105u
Memphis will travel to Wichita State on Saturday for its first game of the new year, hoping to leave the troubles of last year behind it.
The Tigers opened conference play with a loss to 4-6 Tulane and have lost five of their last six games. A team that was once ranked in the top 10 and one of the preseason favorites has likely only one path to the NCAA Tournament: winning its conference tourney.
Wichita State, on the other hand, is 9-3 and will begin its AAC title defense against the Tigers after its original opener on Wednesday against ECU was canceled due to COVID-19 issues.
The Shockers will be coming off of a 10-day layoff as a result of the cancellation.
This is the 27th meeting all-time between the two programs. Memphis leads 14-12, but is 4-8 in Wichita. Their last visit came nearly two years ago (Jan. 9, 2020) when then-No. 23 WSU knocked off the 21st-ranked Tigers, 76-67.
The teams did not play in Wichita last year due to a COVID-19 pause at Memphis. WSU also owns an 11-game AAC home winning streak, last losing on Feb. 6, 2020 vs. Cincinnati.
Will Memphis be able to get back on track, or will Wichita kick off its title defense with a win?
Memphis returned a lot of players from last year’s NIT Championship squad, along with the nation’s top recruiting class. The Tigers entered this season with an insane amount of hype, but they have struggled to put the pieces together.
Memphis climbed as high as No. 9 in the Nov. 22 AP Poll, but it has lost five of its last six games.
The lone victory, however, was an impressive one, as Memphis knocked off sixth-ranked Alabama.
But an untimely COVID-19 pause kept the Tigers from building on that momentum. Down three starters and coming off of a 15-day layoff, they dropped their conference opener on Wednesday at Tulane, 85-84.
Even outside of their recent struggles, the Tigers don’t matchup well against the Shockers. Memphis has a better offense — currently ranked 41st, per KenPom, in adjusted efficiency — but Wichita boasts a top-50 defense in the country.
Another major issue for the Tigers will be something that has caused them problems all season: turnovers.
The Tigers are one of the worst teams in the country in terms of ball security, ranking 350th in the country by turning the ball over on 24.4% of possessions.
If they aren’t able to make a significant changes against a Wichita State defense that is 38th in the country at forcing turnovers, it’s hard to see how Memphis can find its way past the Shockers on the road.
The Shockers returned four of their top five scorers from a conference championship team a year ago, and it’s easy to tell.
Currently averaging 69 points per game and limiting opponents to just 61.8 a contest, the Shockers have been impressive at both ends of the court, getting off to a 9-3 start.
The Shockers have been led by AAC Preseason Player of the Year, Tyson Etienne, who leads the team with 14.7 points while averaging just over 2.5 3-pointers per game. He has also scored more than 20 points in three games already this year.
But he’s not the only big name for Wichita State. Morris Udeze has had seven straight double-figure scoring games and is averaging 15.9 points per game during that stretch. Meanwhile, Craig Porter Jr. is averaging a team-high 3.1 assists per game.
The Shockers rank in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom, but their biggest advantage has been on defense.
Wichita State has limited opponents to just 44.6% in effective field goal percentage. They’ve also been one of the best in the country at blocking shots, ranking 25th by recording a block 14.7% of the time.
And against Memphis — one of the worst teams in the country on offense when it comes to preventing steals and blocks — I think this will be a deciding factor in this game.
Memphis vs. Wichita State Betting Pick
With the struggles Memphis has had recently, and the advantage I think the Wichita defense will have over the Tigers, this is an easy bet on the Shockers for me.
While there is a decent chance the Tigers bounce back after a bad loss to Tulane without some key players, I’m not sure it will be enough to get past the Shockers at home.
That is why I’m taking Wichita State -1, and would feel confident backing it as high as -3
Pick: Wichita State -3
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