This NCAAB handicapper notices that both Baylor and Memphis lost, among others, three starters from last year's NCAA tournament squads. Which makes for some tough ATS picking when the Bears and Tigers hook up Thursday night in Vegas. Here's our crack at picking a winner in this contest.
Bears-Tigers Betting Odds
Most NCAA basketball odds opened this game with Baylor favored by 3.5 points, the total proffered at 128.5, and both those numbers were holding steady in the early betting action.
Those who think Memphis might win this game outright could get the Tigers at +150 on the moneyline at 5Dimes.
Bears-Tigers: The Match-Up
Baylor returns just two starters this season from a team that went 26-12 and reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament last season. The Bears get back senior PG Kenny Chery and F Royce O'Neale, but must replace four guys who combined to average 41 points and 17 rebounds per game last year.
Baylor is off to a 4-0 start, 1-0 ATS. The Bears opened with a 80-39 victory over McNeese State, shooting 52 percent from the floor. They then won at South Carolina 69-65, taking that game straight up as two-point underdogs. They then dispatched of Prairie View A&M 60-45, and last time out, Monday night, Baylor beat Stephen F. Austin 67-51.
Through their first four games the Bears are shooting 47 percent from the field, while holding opponents to just 32 percent. But one thing they have trouble with is shooting free-throws; so far they've made just 65 percent of their shots from the charity stripe. And free throws can come in awfully handy when trying to close out victories and pointspread covers.
Memphis also returns just two starters this season from a team that went 24-10 and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. They get back a pair of forwards in Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols who combined to average 21 points and 11 boards per game, but must replace an average of 44 points and 14 boards lost to attrition.
Memphis is off to a 1-1 start to this season, 0-1 ATS. The Tigers opened with a 71-56 loss to Wichita State on a neutral court in South Dakota, whiffing on the cover as nine-point dogs. Memphis shot just 41 percent from the floor, went 2-for-9 from long range, 14-for-23 from the line and committed 23 turnovers.
Last time out, Monday night, the Tigers beat Prairie View 77-49, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the line while holding the Panthers to just 35 percent FG shooting.
So Memphis beat Prairie View by 18, while Baylor beat the Panthers by 15, three days apart.
Through two games the Tigers have shot 45 percent from the field, just 29 percent from 3-point land and 69 percent from the line, while holding foes to 38 percent shooting. In their previous games Baylor started two seniors, two juniors and a freshman, while Memphis started two juniors, two sophomore and a freshman.These two programs have no recent history.
Bears-Tigers Betting Trends
Baylor games have averaged 119 points this season.
Memphis games have averaged 127 points.
With the total offered at 128.5 it appears the oddsmakers believe the Tigers will control the tempo in this game a little more than the Bears.
Bears-Tigers Free Pick
This is a tough one, in part because there's just not that much to go on. Both teams have holes to fill, and neither team has played anybody else of any quality yet this season. But we notice that Memphis can still play a little defense, and Baylor struggles from the FT line. And if this game is close down the stretch having those few extra points to play with might be important. So for our NCAA basketball pick we'll take the underdog Tigers in this spot.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Memphis +3.5 at 5Dimes