Odds & Pick for Wichita State vs. Memphis College Basketball: Back the Shockers as Short Road Underdogs (Jan. 21)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Wichita State’s Ricky Council IV and Alterique Gilbert.
- Wichita State will look to stay undefeated against teams outside of the KenPom Top 40.
- Memphis has struggled on offense but boasts a sterling defense.
- BJ Cunningham previews Thursday's AAC showdown and shares his betting pick below.
Wichita State vs. Memphis Odds
Wichita State looks to move to 5-1 in AAC play on Thursday when it heads on the road to battle Memphis.
Despite only one blemish on their conference schedule against Houston, the Shockers have taken care of business. The last time they were on the floor they dominated Tulsa, holding the Golden Hurricanes to 53 points and 0.80 points per possession. Wichita State is a perfect 8-0 against teams outside the KenPom Top 40 and will look to stay perfect against the 70th-ranked Tigers?
It’s been a disappointing year for Penny Hardaway’s team, as Memphis is 6-5 on the season. The Tigers have really struggled offensively over their last three games, as they’ve failed to break the 60-point mark in each of those games. However, a win against a solid Wichita State team may be just what the doctor ordered for Memphis to get its season back on track.
When Wichita State has the ball
The Shockers are successful on offense when they are sticking to the fundamentals. Wichita State has the lowest turnover percentage in conference play and is also getting to the foul line more than any other team in the AAC. However, the Shockers are only hitting 65.1% of their free throws in conference play.
The biggest reason the Shockers haven’t seen a steep drop off since Greg Marshall left is due to their back court, led by Alterique Gilbert and Tyson Etienne. The latter has particularly stood out, averaging nearly 18 points per game and shooting almost 40% from three-point range. He’s also drawing almost six fouls per game and shooting better than 80% from the free-throw line. For the Shockers to win as short road dogs, he will need to be on his game.
If it wasn’t for its defense, Memphis would likely be one of the worst teams in the AAC. However, Penny Hardaway has a long, athletic team that is allowing only 0.92 points per possession in AAC play.
Memphis is allowing below 30% from three-point range and rarely gives up offensive rebounds, ranking first in the conference in defensive rebound percentage. When teams try to go to the rim on them, the Tigers are allowing only 56% on shots at the rim and are blocking 18.1% of those attempts, which is the eighth-best rate in the country, per Hoop-Math.
For Wichita State to win this game the Shockers will have to get to the free-throw line as often as possible. Memphis is allowing one of the highest free-throw rates in the conference. However, when the Tigers get there, they have to shoot better than 65.1% from the charity stripe.
When Memphis has the ball
The offensive end of the floor is where the Tigers have really struggled. Memphis is only putting up only 0.89 point per possession and desperately struggled shooting the ball from distance. Over their last three games, the Tigers have shot 26.5% from three-point range and made a total of only 13 threes. Somehow, that’s not even the worst part of the Tigers’ offense.
Memphis is turning the ball over at ridiculous rate over its last four games, which has led to the highest turnover rate in the conference. The team is shooting a dismal 56.2% from the free-throw line in those games, so major improvements are needed in those two areas.
Wichita State’s defense has been solid in conference play, allowing only 0.96 points per possession. The backcourt of Gilbert and Etienne do a fantastic job defending the perimeter, as the Shockers have allowed only 26% from behind the arc in conference play. However, they are most likely going to get exposed by Memphis on glass.
The Shockers allow one of the highest offensive rebound rates in the AAC, while Memphis has one of the highest offensive rebound rate. Memphis also has clear size advantage, as the Tigers are on average more than an inch taller than Wichita State. The Shockers will need to be disciplined in their box outs on Thursday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With how bad Memphis’ offense has been since entering conference play, it’s hard to see how the Tigers will be able to break down Wichita State’s defense other than crashing the offensive boards. Wichita State is flat out playing better basketball right now, so I think there is some value on the Shockers to win outright on Thursday.
I’ll take the Shockers moneyline at +132 (FanDuel) and would play it down to +110
Pick: Wichita State +132 | Play down to +110