NCAA Basketball Picks: Lock Temple -4.5 In Home Finale vs. Memphis

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 11:01 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2016 11:01 PM UTC

Temple could clinch at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season title with a win over visiting Memphis on Thursday night and with some help elsewhere. The Owls are 5-point favorites on Heritage's NCAA Basketball odds.

Tigers May Get Offseason Makeover
Memphis (16-13, 7-9) has vastly disappointed and is seventh in the AAC standings, likely where the team will finish. That would mean a first-round conference tournament game next Thursday against the No. 10 seed (probably either East Carolina or Tulane).  I've written previously that Memphis could fire coach Josh Pastner after this season even though his contract has four years and around $10 million left on it.  If Memphis were to fire Pastner, it would have to pay him a $10.6 million buyout.

The Tigers ended a two-game losing streak with a 92-82 win over Tulsa on Sunday in their home finale. The team honored senior Shaq Goodwin, among others in his class, and he responded with 28 points and 11 rebounds. It was Goodwin's 16th career double-double. It also might have been the final home game for freshman Dedric Lawson, who had 27 points and 12 boards for his 14th double-double. Lawson could declare for the NBA Draft. He leads the AAC in rebounding (9.3 per game) and is second in blocked shots (1.9 per game). Memphis outscored Tulsa 46-36 in the second half, with the Tigers shooting 59.3 percent after intermission. The Tigers outrebounded the Golden Hurricane 40-25 and lead the AAC in rebounding.

On the season, Memphis is 10-16 against the spread on March Madness odds and 3-5 ATS on the road.


Owls Want No. 1 Seed For AAC Tourney
Temple (18-10, 12-4 AAC) isn't even a sure thing for the NCAA Tournament yet -- it is projected currently as just a 12th seed for the Big Dance. The Owls are tied for first place in the AAC with SMU, which is ineligible for any postseason basketball. Thus a tie between those two would give Temple the top seed in next week's AAC Tournament  at the Amway Center in Orlando. SMU also plays Thursday and is a 6-point favorite against visiting UConn. Temple closes the regular season with what should be a win at Tulane, which is perhaps the worst team in the conference. SMU finishes with a much tougher game at Cincinnati. The Bearcats are a game back in the standings and still alive. They are slight underdogs Thursday at Houston. So if Temple wins on Thursday and SMU and Cincinnati both lose, the Owls are the top seed and at worst share the AAC regular-season title. Yet currently at BetOnline, Temple is +800 to win the conference tournament, behind Cincinnati (+175), UConn (+185), Tulsa (+550) and Houston (+700). That's interesting.

The Owls nearly  were upset at home on Saturday by Central Florida, the host team for the AAC Tournament, but escaped 63-61. With three seconds remaining, senior and leading scorer Quenton DeCosey hit a 15-foot jumper for the go-ahead points, and the Knights missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Apparently Saturday was something called Hooter the Owl's birthday, the Temple mascot. Never bet against Temple on Hooter the Owl's birthday as the basketball team is now 11-0 all-time on that day. DeCosey finished with 15 points and Temple has won 13 straight games when he scores at least that many. DeCosey averages 15.9 ppg on the season.

Temple did get some bad news on Sunday when freshman guard Trey Lowe was hurt in a one-car accident in Philadelphia. It's apparently nothing that will jeopardize his career, but he likely will miss the rest of the season. Lowe had played in every game, starting five, and averaged 4.8 points.

This is the Owls' final home game and Senior Night. DeCosey is part of that class. He has scored 1,431 points to rank 25th all-time in school history. Temple is 14-12 ATS overall on March Madness picks and 6-5 ATS at home.


First Meeting
On Jan. 13, Memphis was a 5.5-point home favorite over Temple and won 67-65. Ricky Tarrant Jr. hit two free throws in the final seconds for the winning points. The Owls' Devin Coleman missed his 3-point at the buzzer. Goodwin had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers, while Lawson had 16 points and 12 boards. Temple led by six at halftime. DeCosey was just 5-for-15 from the field for 13 points. Neither team shot even 38 percent from the field.

Give the points. The Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their past four road games and 1-4 ATS in their past five after a win. Temple is 4-0 ATS in its past four Thursday games. It has covered four straight against Memphis. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple -4.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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