Memphis vs. Gonzaga Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Underdog Tigers?

Memphis vs. Gonzaga Odds & Picks: Betting Value on Underdog Tigers? article feature image

Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Duren.

  • The Memphis Tigers face the Gonzaga Bulldogs in NCAA Tournament action on Saturday night.
  • The top-seeded Bulldogs struggled with 16-seed Georgia State in the first half of their first-round matchup, and the Tigers will pose another challenge.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game and shares his top betting pick for this matchup below.

Memphis vs. Gonzaga Odds

Saturday, March 19
9:40 p.m. ET
Memphis Odds
-110o / -110u
Gonzaga Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Gonzaga took Georgia State's best punch in the opening round, and the Panthers actually held multiple second-half leads against the No. 1 overall seed. The Bulldogs eventually went on a 31-4 run as injuries and fouls caught up with the Panthers and Gonzaga's spurts showed itself offensively.

The Bulldogs have a much more difficult test on Saturday night against Memphis after Penny Hardaway and the Tigers posted a stellar first half against Boise State and survived the Broncos' comeback attempt.

All eyes will be at the rim on Saturday as two potential top picks in the NBA Draft face off in Chet Holmgren for Gonzaga and Jalen Duren for Memphis. Duran and Holmgren are two of the best rim protectors in the entire country and will make it difficult for either team to score easy points at the basket.

Memphis has played like one of the nation's best teams since Emoni Bates was taken out of the main rotation for the Tigers. They're taking a huge step up in class of opponent here, but Memphis did beat Houston twice and took out Boise State comfortably in the opening round.

They're playing as well as they have all season right now and could give Gonzaga a real challenge on the Bulldogs' path to the Final Four.

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Memphis Tigers

Since February began, Memphis ranks sixth in BartTorvik's adjusted efficiency ratings. The Tigers are 11-2 in that stretch with two wins over Houston and the majority of those wins coming by double digits. Memphis has returned to its end-of-2021 form under Hardaway, winning with elite defense and transition offense.

Memphis struggles quite a bit when forced to play in the half-court offensively, as it's outside the top 150, per ShotQuality. Fortunately for the Tigers, they won't have to play in the half-court much in an up-tempo game with Gonzaga on Saturday. The Bulldogs play at one of the fastest tempos in the country, and Memphis will be more than comfortable playing at that pace.

The biggest key for Memphis is keeping Duren out of foul trouble because the depth behind him at the rim is lacking. The Tigers rank 27th in the country protecting the rim and 11th at guarding the post, and Duren should be able to match Holmgren and Drew Timme to prevent the Bulldogs from getting easy looks at the rim.

Gonzaga doesn't apply a lot of ball pressure defensively and ranks below average in forcing turnovers, but any opportunity for Gonzaga to turn over Memphis and get out in transition could spell danger for the Tigers.

Memphis sits bottom-10 in the country in turnover rate, and Alex Lomax's inconsistent point guard play was on full display in the victory over Boise State on Thursday.

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Gonzaga Bulldogs

It's important to not overreact to a one-game sample, especially when ShotQuality said that Gonzaga was expected to score 110 points in its victory over Georgia State.

First, Georgia State was no ordinary 16-seed. Second, the Bulldogs missed a lot of shots around the rim that they normally make, hence the SQ report.

But the Panthers had the length and size to at least bother Timme and Holmgren at the rim, and Duren can do that to an even greater extent on Saturday. If teams can match Gonzaga in the frontcourt and force the guards to make plays consistently and win from the perimeter, Gonzaga has shown some considerable weakness this season. Especially when compared to last season, the guard play hasn't been as dominant.

The Bulldogs offense does have some perimeter regression coming when considering they've made 38% from beyond the arc this season and ShotQuality suggests their true shooting percentage from deep should actually be 35%.

Memphis has the length to contest a lot of perimeter shots, and its ball pressure can cause issues against a Bulldogs team that has some issues with ball retention against teams that can match them athletically.

Gonzaga's defense will probably find itself defending in transition quite a bit as well against Memphis, a team that likes to push the pace. While the Bulldogs are top-10 defensively in the half-court, they're outside the top 100 in transition.

Memphis vs. Gonzaga Betting Pick

The Bulldogs opened as 10.5-point favorites, which is slightly below what the predictive metrics like KenPom and BartTorvik project the line to be.

The line is clearly factoring in the improved play of Memphis since Bates was taken out of the rotation. The Tigers have the athleticism and length to bother Gonzaga, unlike any team the Bulldogs have faced since the nonconfernece slate.

Gonzaga could easily run away with this game in transition if turnovers become an issue for Memphis in the half-court and the Bulldogs are able to easily run the floor. But if Memphis cuts down turnovers against pretty weak Gonzaga ball pressure and a defense that doesn't really force turnovers, the Tigers have Duren, who is a great equalizer at the rim.

I'm concerned about the potential for Duren to get into foul trouble trying to match up with Timme and Holmgren for 40 minutes. But Memphis is going to punch Gonzaga in the mouth. The Tigers can compete with the Bulldogs for at least the first half of the game.

The Tigers' transition offense can do enough to score with Gonzaga if the Zags don't rack up as many easy points as they usually do at the rim.

Pick: Memphis 1H +6.5

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