Did we all miss betting on college basketball? San Francisco led by as many as 15 in the first half, gave up the lead, played a back-and-forth second half, and then failed to cover by a half-point on our early-morning line in overtime. Kudos to those that got the closer of -4.5 to get a win. Getting the best number sure does matter in college basketball. It was surprising that the Yale/USF line came down.
Anyway, we move on and look at the Tuesday night card and focus on a big “neutral”-site game in Portland between the Memphis Tigers and the Oregon Ducks. This one will be played at the Moda Center, which is about two hours north of the Oregon campus in Eugene. It’s a big non-conference tilt and easily the premier game of Tuesday night’s card.
With a cut-down home court advantage, the Ducks are -4 with a total of 145.5 for this one. Give Oregon credit. Dana Altman has scheduled nicely in the non-conference to get his team ready for a probable NCAA Tournament run. The Ducks have played two solid, albeit unspectacular, Mountain West teams in Fresno State and Boise State. UT-Arlington, Houston, Seton Hall, and Michigan are still on the schedule after this one.
Memphis has blowout wins over South Carolina State and Illinois-Chicago to open up the Penny Hardaway tenure in Bluesville. This sure is a long way to go for a game, but the potential stakes down the line as far as NCAA Tournament seeding should help the Tigers shake off the jet lag. They also haven’t played since Friday, so they’ve had plenty of time to get prepped for this one.
For now, James Wiseman is playing. The NCAA ruled him ineligible because his now coach Hardaway helped his family move in 2018. There was a lot of craziness in the lead-up to Friday’s game against UIC, as the NCAA said he could not play pending investigation. Memphis filed a temporary restraining order in the state of Tennessee and Wiseman was able to play pending the result of the case.
It is a breath of fresh air to see somebody going up against the NCAA for these ridiculous suspensions and rules. As long as the case is open, Wiseman can play. Memphis only needs him until April because he’ll be a one-and-done lottery pick. This will be a saga to follow and the distraction for Wiseman and the Memphis program could be a stumbling block down the line, but the players are being instructed to simply control what they can control
That means playing basketball. Wiseman has 45 points and 20 rebounds in just 47 minutes of action so far. Memphis has shot 57% from the floor against a couple of overmatched foes. Oregon brings a much stiffer defense to the table.
It hasn’t just been Wiseman. The kids are very much alright at Memphis. Fellow freshmen Boogie Ellis, Precious Achiuwa, and DJ Jeffries rank second, third, and fourth in scoring behind Wiseman. So far, the Tigers are shooting 66% on two-point shots.
Memphis was 14-of-27 from three against UIC last time out. It is so hard at this time of year to get a read on these teams because they play such imbalanced schedules. Oregon has played a better schedule in that those two MWC teams are at least competent. Memphis wasn’t going to be tested by either opponent prior to the Oregon game.
Oregon is a much more experienced team, for whatever that is worth in this game. Their leading scorers, Payton Pritchard, Anthony Mathis, Chris Duarte, Shakur Juiston, and Francis Okoro, are a senior, senior, junior, senior, and sophomore. You do wonder about Memphis against a team like that. You cannot question Memphis’s talent level in any capacity, but Oregon should be the safer, smarter team in a game like this, especially with a coach like Altman and the defense that the Ducks play.
On the other hand, you worry to a degree about Oregon’s offense in a game like this without a guy like Bol Bol and with some of their other losses from last season, like Paul White and Louis King. There is a lot on the shoulders of Pritchard.
From a betting standpoint, this is not the best game of the night. There are a lot of unknowns about both of these teams, but we will also find out a lot about both of these teams. We’ll see how Memphis does against a real defense and we’ll see how Oregon does offensively against a long, athletic group.
We’ll also see if Oregon can dictate the pace. The Ducks were 329th in adjusted tempo last season. They’ve moved much quicker in their first two games. Can they slow it down and force Memphis into a half-court game? They are the more experienced team with the more experienced coach.
Lean: Memphis +4
Lean: Under 145.5