2021 NIT Odds, Picks & Betting Preview: Memphis vs. Boise State (Thursday, March 25)

2021 NIT Odds, Picks & Betting Preview: Memphis vs. Boise State (Thursday, March 25) article feature image
Credit:

Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: DeAndre Williams.

  • Memphis and Boise State both came up short of making the NCAA Tournament this season.
  • Now, the Tigers and Broncos meet in the NIT quarterfinals.
  • Who has the edge? Continue reading for a breakdown and prediction.

Memphis vs. Boise State Odds

Click here for Saturday’s NIT semifinal preview between Colorado State and Memphis.

Memphis Odds -4
Boise State Odds +4
Moneyline -190 / +160
Over/Under 143 (-108 / -108)
Time | TV Thursday, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.

The Memphis Tigers face the Boise State Broncos in the NIT quarterfinals on Thursday night.

Memphis ended the season winning 11 of its final 14 games, with two of those losses coming to Houston by a combined five points. The first loss was due to a half-court buzzer beater, and the second one went right down to the wire. Had the Tigers won either of those games, they would have likely been dancing in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, they earned the No. 1 seed in the NIT and have a date with Boise State.

Boise State was another team that was disappointed on Selection Sunday, as it missed the tournament for the sixth straight year. The Broncos started 13-1, with its only loss a 10-point defeat to Houston, but finished 5-7 and was bounced by Nevada in its first game in the Mountain West Tournament. In the first round of the NIT, the Broncos survived SMU thanks to a game-winning put-back by Devonaire Doutrive.

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When Memphis Has the Ball

There is no denying that this Memphis team thrives on the defensive end of the court. The Tigers have allowed just 62.8 points per game, which ranks 21st in the nation, and held opponents under the 60-point mark in 11 contests. They hold opponents to just 39% on all field-goal attempts, including 27.4% from 3-point range, which ranks second in the country. These defensive metrics are especially impressive since they play with the fastest tempo in the AAC.

Scoring against the Tigers isn’t easy in part due to the length that they have at each position. 6-foot-10 freshman Moussa Cissé is complemented by a pair of 6-foot-7 forwards who make life difficult at the rim. Surprisingly for a team that is full of four and five-star recruits, the best player for the Tigers this season has been three-star recruit DeAndre Williams. He has averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds since transferring from Evansville and becoming eligible in December.

The Tigers have a well-rounded offense that sees five players average between 9.2 and 12.9 points per game. They rank 11th in the country by assisting on 61.6% of their field goals this season. The main struggles for this offense have come from turnovers and the free-throw line. At the charity stripe the Tigers convert just 61.6% of their attempts, which is better than only seven teams in Division-I. Careless mistakes have also doomed this offense, which coughed the ball up on 22.1% of their offensive possessions.

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When Boise State Has the Ball

The Broncos’ offense is played through 6-foot-9 Derrick Alston Jr., who averaged 17.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He can score by attacking the rim and from the outside, where he’s converted 38.7% of his 173 3-point attempts this season. Alongside him are fellow seniors Abu Kigab and Marcus Shaver Jr., both of whom average double-digits per game. The three seniors have scored 49.1% of the Broncos’ total points this season.

The Broncos do virtually everything at an above-average rate but aren’t great at anything. They’re ranked inside the top 75 in the country for both offensive and defensive efficiency. They shoot a modest 52.5% on field-goal attempts and 35.1% from 3-point range.

They scored 76.5 points per game and allowed 67.0, but some of those stats may be skewed due to the Mountain West being so top heavy. The bottom-three teams in the conference finished just 8-of-45 and were a mere punching bag for the rest of the conference. Boise State’s soft schedule against these teams helped inflate its record and statistics for the season.

Boise State finished the season 14-1 with an average winning margin of 19.9 points when facing teams ranked outside the KenPom top 100. When facing teams ranked within the top 100, the Broncos finished 5-6, getting outscored by 3.5 points per game.


Betting Analysis & Pick

The only common opponent between these two teams is Houston. Boise State lost to the Cougars by 10 points early in the year, while Memphis had two close losses by a combined five points.

Boise State has beaten up on the bottom teams in the conference but has struggled when facing a step-up in class. Memphis has blue-chip talent along with relentless defensive pressure, which is a lethal combination. I see the Tigers slowing down Alston and keeping the Broncos below the 60-point mark.

I’m laying the points with the Memphis Tigers, who very well could be making a run in the NCAA Tournament had a few possessions against Houston gone in the other direction.

Pick: Memphis -4 | Play up to -5

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