Both happen to take place in the AAC, so read on for our best bets for Wichita State vs. Houston and Memphis vs. SMU.
Thursday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Thursday’s slate of regular-season games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Wichita State vs. Houston
By D.J. James
Two of the slowest paces in the AAC come together on Thursday night as the Houston Cougars host the Wichita State Shockers.
On the season, Houston ranks 346th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. It holds opponents to an average of 18.1 seconds per possession while using up 19 seconds per possession on offense itself. Wichita State is a little quicker but not by much. The Shockers rank 232nd in Adjusted Tempo and take up 17.7 seconds per possession on both offense and defense.
Both of these teams are focused on defense as well. The Shockers sit 84th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (KenPom) and 154th on offense. The Cougars, meanwhile, rank fifth in both.
Now, Houston may be able to score from both inside and out. The Cougars shoot above 35% from 3 and 54.2% from 2. That could hurt Wichita State, which gives up triples at a 33.5% clip.
However it has also found a way to hold opponents to 45.2% from inside the arc. This should help defend the stronger piece of Houston’s game. That said, the Shockers also rank 53rd in 3-point quality defensively, per ShotQuality compared to 22nd in defense at the rim.
Houston is arguably the most well-rounded defensive team in the country. The Cougars turn opponents over 22.2% of the time while holding them to 27.5% from deep and 42.6% from inside the perimeter.
They sometimes struggle with defending 3s, ranking 147th in catch-and-shoot points per possession, per Shot-Quality. However, they also rank 19th on shots at the rim, which is important against Wichita State’s best offensive weapon.
Lastly, the Shockers are shooting just 30% from 3-point range, so they won’t be able to cut into Houston’s only shortcoming.
Memphis vs. SMU
SMU has been sufficiently feisty in its last handful of games, but its entire body of work would imply it’s outmatched by Memphis’ talent.
Memphis will be fully attentive for its final road game of the season given its status on the bubble. A loss here, even on the road, would potentially seal the Tigers’ fate and send them to the NIT.
The key media storyline of this contest is clearly Kendric Davis’ return to SMU. Davis made a somewhat surprising decision to transfer within the AAC to Memphis this offseason following an impressive season with the Mustangs.
Davis will be making his first and only return to Moody Coliseum tonight, a setting he thrived in throughout a 2021-22 campaign that led him to win AAC Player of the Year. The fan reaction to Davis’ return has yet to be seen, but I would anticipate it will help Davis and Memphis more than it may hurt them.
Situationally, there would typically be an argument this could be a look-ahead spot for Memphis with Houston coming to town on Saturday. Given the need to avoid a crushing loss and the energy Davis will surely have tonight, I wouldn’t anticipate the Tigers overlooking SMU tonight.
If there’s a weakness for Memphis, it would be its propensity to have defensive lapses. SMU, however, is not necessarily equipped to take advantage of lazy efforts defensively from a talent perspective. Despite playing with a fairly quick tempo and being comfortable playing games with a high possession count, the Mustangs rank just 222nd in the country in offensive efficiency.
The combination of those two factors is why I like Memphis to safely cover the six-point spread tonight and ultimately win by a double-digit margin.
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