College Basketball Odds & Picks for Western Kentucky vs. Memphis: Why Hilltoppers Can Make This a Game
Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Emoni Bates
- Memphis hosts Western Kentucky at the FedExForum on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
- The Tigers are 3-0 and have scored at least 89 points in all three games, while the Toppers have lost their last two outings.
- Kyle Remillard breaks down the game and offers up his best bet.
WKU vs. Memphis Odds
|Western Kentucky Odds|
-120o / +100u
-120o / +100u
Memphis will play its fourth home game of the season as they welcome Western Kentucky Friday night. Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers have dominated their first three opponents by an average margin of 90-63. Though it hasn’t been the stiffest of competition, the retooled Memphis squad that is loaded with talent has been showing off.
Two dominant incoming Freshman joining a 2020 unit that won the NIT has Memphis poised to be a major threat this season. But Penny Hardaway described his team’s performance in the 90-74 win over Saint Louis as “scary”. That was due to all the self-inflicted mistakes that his team made, and there were plenty of them.
Those mistakes could prove to be costly against a dangerous Western Kentucky program that has plenty of athleticism of its own. The Hilltoppers are 1-2 on the season but have played a much tougher schedule that includes two power five foes.
Can Memphis roll as 15-point favorites, or will self-inflicted mistakes doom the Wildcats against Western Kentucky?
After averaging 5.8 points per game last season, Dayvion McKnight has emerged as the leader for the Hilltoppers offense after averaging 21.3 points in the first three games this season. The 6-foot-1 point guard has thrived at getting to the free throw line, making 22-of-26 attempts this season.
Being aggressive on the offensive end and not fouling on the defensive end has been the bread and butter for head coach Rick Stansbury over the years. Western Kentucky has gone to the line on 38.3% of its field goal attempts through three games. Last season they ranked eighth in free throw attempts per field goal attempt.
The Hilltoppers are floating around the top-100 in both offensive and defensive efficiency rating this season. They have struggled shooting from behind the arc, hitting just 27% thus far due to the cold streak from Luke Frampton. Entering this season Frampton had connected on 165-of-419 3-point attempts (39%). Through three games, he has hit only one of his 19 attempts.
The Hilltoppers are without their top three scorers from last season including 6-foot-11 center Charles Bassey. He averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game last season. Though his production can’t be matched, Western Kentucky has some bright spots at the forward position to attempt to fill the void — including the tallest player in Division I this season in JUCO transfer Jamarion Sharp. Sharp stands at 7-foot-5 and averaged an astonishing 5.8 blocks per game last season.
The sky is the limit for Penny Hardaway’s squad that brings in two of the top freshman recruits in Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. Bates is a 6-foot-9 wing who leads the team in scoring with 16 points per game while and connecting on 50% of his 18 3-point attempts. Duren is a 6-foot-11 center who has averaged 12.7 points and 8 rebounds per game.
Duren is the rim protector for the Tigers defense which ranks 15th in holding opponents to 37.8% shooting on 2-point attempts. The group has amounted an astonishing 38 blocks in its first three games which is the most of any team in the nation. The Memphis defense has been the backbone to the program that ranks third in the nation in adjusted efficiency according to Kenpom.
Memphis ranks 322nd in the nation turnover percentage through three games, which is nothing new for the program that ranked 343rd in non-steal turnover percentage last season. Freshman Emoni Bates contributed nine of the 24 turnovers against Saint Louis. That could be an issue against a Western Kentucky defense that ranks 26th in forcing turnovers this season.
The group ranks 315th in allowing offensive rebounds, which also proved costly against the Billikens who grabbed 23 of them. Those offensive boards allowed Saint Louis to have 20 more shot attempts than Memphis in the game.
Western Kentucky vs. Memphis Betting Pick
Western Kentucky is still adjusting to life without having Charles Bassey to protect the paint. But they’re being a bit undervalued in this matchup due to their recent struggles.
The Hilltoppers defeated Memphis last season 75-69 in the Crossover Classic in South Dakota.
Western Kentucky will try to maximize Memphis’s mistakes to keep this game close. Memphis ranks 323rd in offensive turnover percentage while the Hilltoppers are 23rd in forcing turnovers. Western Kentucky forced 17 turnovers last game against South Carolina. If Memphis allows Western Kentucky to get 20 more shot attempts as they did Saint Louis, then they could be on upset alert once again.
Luke Frampton should start to see improvement on his 1-for-19 three-point shooting as a career 39% shooter. Western Kentucky’s ability to get to the free-throw line will help keep this game close against the young Memphis program.