Running as one of the hottest teams in the nation after steamrolling Houston in their conference final, Memphis is rewarded with a tough test against a feisty FAU squad as a -2 favorite. Both teams run as an elite defensive unit, specializing in ball pressure and covering opposing looks at the rim. With that said my prediction for this matchup is that we will see points come at a premium, playing friendly towards the full game under.
FAU Vs. Memphis Prediction
The revitalization of the Memphis Tigers has swept the nation since their season finale performance against the Houston Cougars. Taking them to the brink of defeat, losing on a buzzer beater that shattered Tigers fans hearts. Even in a loss, their performance was eye opening to say the least as their relentless defensive pressure gave the most efficient team fits over the full course of the game. They eventually got their revenge in the conference final, steamrolling the Cougars who were without Marcus Sasser.
That game spoke more to me about the Cougars without Sassar than it did the Tigers, tempering my expectations of them pulling away in this one. Markets agree, opening Memphis as a -2 favorite. The Owls defense will be able to match the Tigers’ pressure, ranking 35th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. In fact, it’s a near identical defensive matchup as the Owls will bring relentless ball pressure and fly to the open shooter in an effort to turn it into a low-quality look.
Their coverage has been lethal throughout the whole season, holding opposing offenses to an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 45.9%. Good for 15th in the nation per TeamRankings. As if that wasn’t scary enough, they have actually drastically cut down that percentage in their conference tournament play, holding opposing offenses to an incredible eFG% of 36.5%. Take that recent play with a grain of salt as the Tigers will be a step up in quality of production, especially with star point guard Kendric Davis running the show.
While I am hard pressed to say the Owls will shut down Davis, they are at least equipped to slow him down enough to help out our under ticket. The Owls run as a small unit, stretching out towards the perimeter while running a true center in the interior. This plays towards their ability to smother looks from the perimeter, as well as challenging Davis in the interior. The middle remains exposed, but attacking that area slows down the scoring pace.
FAU Vs. Memphis Prediction: Wait on the under
FAU Vs. Memphis Odds
Even in a massive win in their last game out against Houston, oddsmakers have tempered their expectations of the Tigers skating past the Owls. Oddsmakers opened the Tigers as a -1.5 favorite with bettors taking them up to as high as -2.5 in some shops. Pushing recency bias aside as this number may seem confusing at first glance, it is actually in line with Kenpom’s projections which gives it little to no value.
As for the total, this is where my interests lie as oddsmakers have this pegged as a quick scoring affair by opening the total at 150.5. Bettors are in the same mindset as oddsmakers, taking the over up to as high as 153 as of writing. This early line movement makes little to no sense to me as both units are more than capable of smothering each other’s looks as elite coverage units.
FAU Vs. Memphis Key Matchups
FAU guard play vs Memphis perimeter defense
The Owls don’t field anyone of Kendric Davis caliber, yet they are a capable scoring unit behind their perimeter play. They are one of the best three-point shooting units in the nation, averaging an incredible 37.2%.
By playing small, the Owls stretch out opposing defenses with their guards hovering around the arc. What will be interesting to see is how they facilitate their halfcourt sets with their methodical style of play. FAU runs at a pace good for 129th in Adjusted Tempo, basing a brunt of their offensive success in motion sets to free up shooters on the arc.
This plays into the Tigers hands as they hold opposing shooting to a lowly 46.8% eFG%, bringing a relentless in your face style of defense that gives Houston’s offense fits. It especially helps that FAU plays slow, giving the Tigers a chance to establish their structure in the half court and identify the ball movement.
With early money flooding in on the over, I will patiently wait to see how high this can go before putting a position in on the under.