College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions for SMU vs. Memphis (Thursday, Jan. 20)
Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images.
- Penny Hardaway's Memphis Tigers host Kendric Davis and the SMU Mustangs in a critical AAC affair.
- The Tigers have lost their last two games while the Mustangs have won two straight and are alone in second place in the American standings.
- Jim Root breaks down why DeAndre Williams' status is key to this game.
SMU vs. Memphis Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Outside of Houston’s Thanos-esque inevitability, the American has been something of a mystery box this year. The second-best team changes constantly, and both of these squads have had their turn in the spotlight.
Memphis was the preseason darling, and after a couple early stumbles, the Tigers destroyed Alabama and Wichita State while winning four of five.
Key injuries have sapped them of playmakers, though. That has crippled the offense, leading to two straight road losses and a disappointing 9-7 record (3-3 in the league).
SMU, meanwhile, entered the year with Tim Jankovich sitting squarely on a scorching hot seat. A 3-3 start — with losses to Missouri and Loyola Marymount — did nothing to quell those concerns.
Lo and behold, though, the Mustangs have gotten hot. They have now won 10 of their past 11, including key victories over Vanderbilt, Dayton and UCF. They sit alone at 4-1 in the American — second in the conference — and the stock ticker continues to point up.
For the Ponies, it all starts with their devastating offense, led by one of the country’s best guards in Kendric Davis.
“King Kendric,” as I call him, has emerged as a sneaky All-American candidate. He leads the AAC in scoring, ranks third in assists and currently has 46.7%/40.2%/89.0% shooting splits (FG, 3P, FT).
He’s lightning quick and has the ball on a string, allowing him to get wherever he wants on the floor. Shooters dot the perimeter around him, and Davis feeds Emmanuel Bandoumel and Zach Nutall a steady diet of open jumpers.
Michael Weathers is another terrific slasher who takes advantage of the Ponies’ tremendous spacing
A physical frontcourt adds to the onslaught, with Marcus Weathers — Michael’s brother — and Tristan Clark battering foes on the glass. The Mustangs did recently lose Isiah Jasey for the season, straining their depth up front.
Jankovich may have to lean more into small ball without Jasey.
The Tigers’ struggles are well-documented. After copious offseason hype, they have become a punching bag for many (myself included).
Context matters, though. Memphis is just 1-3 without DeAndre Williams, a versatile forward who makes plays for others and cleans up many of the messes left by a young team.
Additionally, point guard Alex Lomax has been out for multiple games, and Landers Nolley II (the Tigers’ best shooter) missed the loss at East Carolina.
The Tigers have still thrived with relentless rim attacks, though. Thanks to Jalen Duren, Malcolm Dandridge, Josh Minott and even Lester Quinones, they rank sixth nationally in offensive rebound rate and 10th in free throw rate.
Few teams can handle the wave after wave of high-level athleticism Penny Hardaway has at his disposal.
Where those athletes have surprisingly struggled is on the defensive end. Three straight foes — and eight of 11 — have scored better than 1.0 points per possession. That’s stunning for a team that should be a total pain to score against.
The interior defense has been stout — Memphis is 25th in 2P% defense and fourth in block rate — but the Tigers surrender too many open shots. Lackluster on-ball defense and sloppy rotations have allowed opponents to feast on the perimeter. That could be an issue against SMU’s prolific snipers.
SMU vs. Memphis Betting Pick
With his incredible quickness, “King Kendric” can will live in the lane against this Memphis defense. But if Memphis is smart, it will force the diminutive dynamo to finish over size at the rim rather than help off of shooters. That is a gigantic if, however.
On the other hand, Memphis could overwhelm a Jasey-less SMU in the paint. Plus, the Tigers’ best effort this season came against Alabama in a hype home spot after a multi-game losing streak. In that spot once again, Memphis could come out throwing haymakers.
This one ultimately comes down to the number and player availability. With Williams, Nolley, Lomax and Jayden Hardaway all classified as true “game-time decisions” by Penny, betting this one overnight is a serious challenge.
My best recommendation is to track Williams’ status. Without him, I think the over is a great bet up to 155. If he’s in, then I like Memphis up to -7. Not all players matter, but Williams definitely does!