Two of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference will lock up on Thursday evening as the Memphis Tigers hit the road and visit the Wichita State Shockers. Memphis comes into the game at 12-2, while the Shockers are 13-1 on the season and one of the bigger surprises in the nation. Both teams are ranked within the Top 25, with Memphis at No. 21 and Wichita State at No. 23.
The Tigers are coming off of just their first post-James Wiseman loss, falling at the hands of Anthony Edwards and the Georgia Bulldogs. Memphis had reeled off 10 wins in a row and was making people believe it is a Final Four contender even without the much-heralded center.
The Tigers continue to be led by forwards Precious Achiuwa and DJ Jefferies, both of whom average at least 12 points, while the former also averages double-figure rebounds.
Coach Penny Hardaway also welcomed back wing scorer Lester Quinones just before the new year. In his three games since returning, he has averaged 12.3 points while shooting 8-of-16 from behind the arc.
Wichita State has been a pleasant surprise in what was predicted to be a down season in the AAC. The Shockers are currently ranked 33rd in Kenpom and boast wins over South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and VCU.
Last season’s youth movement has become leaders as sophomores, as Erik Stevenson (14.1 ppg) and Jamarius Burton (10.5 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game) have combined with a nice freshman class to continue Gregg Marshall’s success in Wichita.
Wichita State is a four-point favorite playing at home in this one, with the over/under set at 139.
A Tiger In The Wheat Field
Memphis has proven that it still has talent and ability in the post-Wiseman era. The Tigers are 8-5-1 against the spread on the season and 7-7 in the over/under. In five of their last seven contests, the total has gone under.
The Tigers are allowing just 0.70 points per possession on the season, placing them in the 100th percentile in the nation. They are excellent in closeout, in particular, allowing just 0.71 points per possession, which, coincidentally, accounts for 24 percent of the Shockers offensive action, where they average a mediocre 0.84 PPP.
Looking For Eight In A Row
Wichita State is a perfect 10-0 straight up at home this season but just a mediocre 5-5 against the spread in the friendly confines. In their last seven games, however, the Shockers are 5-2 and seemingly hitting their stride.
Wichita State is currently on a seven-game winning streak, with six of the seven games being a double-digit victory. Marshall is 2-2 against the Tigers in his time in Wichita. The Shockers are 8-6 in the over/under on the season, but the total has gone over in seven of their last eight games.
How Do You Shock A Tiger?
Memphis should get up for this game after losing to a Georgia team that it really shouldn’t be losing to. The home court may play a huge factor in this game, as these two teams rank 335th (WSU) and 353rd (Memphis) in the experience column, which is to say they are two of the youngest teams in the nation.
Neither team is particularly great on offense, while both are above-average defensive teams, so the under is the most logical play.
Memphis has the talent, but Wichita State has the home court and the coaching. Neither team has played a particularly daunting schedule, but the Shockers have played better teams leading up to conference play and may be more prepared.
Take the Shockers at home to cover if you must, but the under is the play.