Videos by OutKick
Memphis may not be in the SEC, but they’ve been on an SEC run recently and it will continue tonight. After Penny Hardaway’s team fell to Georgia and Ole Miss on the road, they return home for a meeting with the beat of the bunch yet.
The sixth ranked Crimson Tide come in hot after dropping Final Four participants Gonzaga and Houston in back-to-back games. It’s fair to say these two teams’ trajectories are crossing in different directions. Alabama walks into Memphis as the 3.5-point favorite and it’s with very, very good reason. The Tide have Jaden Shackelford, a junior who has spent his entire collegiate career in the Nate Oats system, who is having a career-year. He’s popping 19.1 points per game. Alabama is an elite offensive team, where they rank 7th nationally in points per game (86.0).
Memphis is struggling to find their identity. They’ve got two of the top 6 recruits from this last year’s class and those young men have been fine but nothing spectacular. Emoni Bates averages just over double digits scoring and Jalen Duren has been a flash of athleticism often this season and what you’d expect of a lottery-pick type talent but the entire team hasn’t put it together often this year. As much publicity as Memphis’ #1 ranked recruiting class got for this year, Alabama has been stacking. In the last three cycles, they’ve signed 1-five star and 8-four star players and several of them are rolling deep in the Tide’s fast-paced, 3s beat 2s, let ‘em play system and this may be their year.
The Tigers are quite capable of a strong effort here and especially at home where they are clearly more comfortable, grabbing four of their five wins there. However, they’ve only covered in two of those wins. Alabama is 6-3 ATS and 3-1 ATS away from home. This game will be the Tide’s first true road game of the season so that and the immense talent-level and potential Memphis has on it’s roster, I get the spread being so tight. I love trusting really good coaches especially on the road and Nate Oats is both of those things. Oats is a far superior in-game coach than Penny Hardaway and it’s easy for me to put my money with the Tide. Play Alabama -3.5.