College Basketball Betting: Tulsa at Memphis Preview
by Matt Severance - 02/10/2009
Let's face it, a majority of the NCAA basketball betting on Wednesday will flow in on that epic North Carolina-Duke rivalry. That game tips off at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN from Durham, and no doubt that will dominate the college basketball ratings on Wednesday night as well.
But I give you another matchup that night that is worth keeping an eye (and potentially your money) on: Tulsa at Memphis.
John Calipari's Tigers have won 50 consecutive Conference USA games (including tournaments). The Tigers last lost in league play to UAB on March 2, 2006, and have won 14 straight games overall following Saturday's very impressive 68-50 victory at Gonzaga. That's the second-longest winning streak in the country behind Utah State.
Freshman Tyreke Evans has been as good as advertised, leading the Tigers in scoring with 17 points per game, ranking second in assists (3.8) and third in rebounding (5.4). He had 22 against the Zags. And since Evans has taken over as the point guard (from shooting guard), this team looks Final Four-worthy again. During their winning streak, the Tigers' average margin of victory has been 17 points, they've allowed as many as 70 points only once and have held seven opponents to 54 points or less.
ESPN's Hubert Davis called the Tigers the "best defensive team in the country" following that demolition of Gonzaga, and Coach Cal has said much the same.
The Tigers' only losses have been by five points to ninth-ranked Xavier, in overtime to Georgetown and by seven to No. 20 Syracuse. And since the 2005 Conference USA Tournament, Memphis has won 75 of its last 79 home games, not to mention currently owning an eight-game winning streak over Tulsa.
But I'm here to tell you that the Tigers are in danger Wednesday night against a pretty good Golden Hurricane team, one which I believe will, at a minimum, make this a close game.
Tulsa, second in C-USA, is on a five-game winning streak. It is the top team in scoring defense in the conference and No. 1 as well in three-point field-goal defense, which remains an inconsistency for Memphis (33 percent). The Tigers also aren't a good free-throw shooting team again (66.5 percent).
And Tulsa has a stud in the middle in center Jerome Jordan. He had 20 points and 13 rebounds when these teams met earlier this season, a 55-54 Memphis win that came on an Antonio Anderson buzzer-beater. The Tigers had just one player in double-figures in that game (Evans) and were out-rebounded by 18. Tulsa leads C-USA in rebounding margin this season.
Jordan is averaging a double-double in conference play at 18.1 points per game and 10.0 rebounds, the only player in the league averaging double figures in rebounds. He's also second in blocks. The junior pretty well dominated in the first game with Memphis, and if he does again …
The Golden Hurricane are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games and 4-1 ATS in the past five trips to Memphis.
"We've been fortunate to make a play late or have the ball bounce in," Calipari said following last week's C-USA win over Southern Methodist. "There will be a day when the ball bounces out and that will be the end of the streak."
I think the combination of the Tigers having a slight letdown off a big road win over a ranked Gonzaga team and having to travel back and forth across country, among other factors, might mean that day could come Wednesday.