Friday March 16 6:50 p.m. EST on TBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Memphis -3.5
There weren’t many teams who were disappointed on Selection Sunday, but the Memphis Tigers definitely were. Memphis was feeling extremely disrespected after being seeded eighth. Coach Josh Pastner believes his team will use this to fuel their fire in the tournament. St. Louis returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000. Let’s take a closer look at this #8 vs. #9 seed matchup.
St. Louis picked up some nice non-conference wins over Washington, Villanova, and Oklahoma early in the year. The team kept their momentum going throughout the year, and they won nine of their last 11 games. Brian Conklin is the team’s leading scorer at 13.9 points per game. He shoots 53% from the floor. Kwamain Mitchell is the primary point guard for St. Louis. Mitchell takes care of the ball well, and he is a very good defender. St. Louis has four players with at least 65 assists on the season. The team relies heavily on the three-point shot, and they shoot it at 37%.
Rick Majerus teams are usually known for their solid defense, and this team is no different. The Billikens are eighth in the country in points allowed. Opponents score just 57.8 points per game. St. Louis will want to slow this game down and make it a half court game.
Memphis comes into this tournament winners of 20 of their last 23 games. The team was expecting a six or seven seed, but they received an eight seed. Coach Pastner is using this as a way to show that the Tigers are underdogs in this tournament. Memphis is a very talented team that is extremely dangerous. The Tigers seemed to gel as the season went along, and some experts believe they could make a deep run in this tournament. Will Barton has established himself as the leader of the team. Barton is a 6’6 guard who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. He averages 18.1 points and 8.1 boards per game.
Joe Jackson is an ultra-talented point guard who has been a bit inconsistent in his two years at Memphis, but when he is on this team is very tough to beat. Chris Crawford and Antonio Barton are both reliable shooters from the outside. Tarik Black is the main man in the low post for Memphis. Black averages 10.9 points per game, but he has struggled with foul problems all year. If the team is going to realize its potential, Black needs to be able to stay on the floor. Memphis shoots 49.4% from the floor as a team, which is fifth in the nation. The Tigers allow 63.1 points per game.
St. Louis absolutely has to slow this game down or they will be in big trouble. Memphis has far too much athleticism and I think they have too much offensive firepower for St. Louis to keep up.
Free College Basketball Pick: Memphis -3.5
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