Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#709 Arkansas - Little Rock vs.
#710 Memphis
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 8:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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#709 University of Arkansas at Little Rock
#710 University of Memphis
3-1
3-1
11-17
19-17
13-15
17-19
74
80
75
74

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The Arkansas Little-Rock Trojans will head on the road to the FedEx Forum on Wednesday evening as they prepare for a tough non-conference tilt against the No.16-ranked Memphis Tigers.

The Tigers’ season has been swirling with controversy surrounding the eligibility of James Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit in the country. Wiseman recently advised his legal team to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA, which puts the ball back in the NCAA’s court regarding a decision. While Memphis appears ready to end its fight against the NCAA, head coach Penny Hardaway was less apologetic in a news conference on Friday. For now, Wiseman is suspended for the foreseeable future but a resolution is likely to come down soon. The infraction will likely result in a ban for one-third of the regular season or nine games, which could make Wiseman eligible as soon as the Tigers’ conference opener on Dec. 30. Can Memphis cover the spread at home without Wiseman on the floor versus Arkansas Little Rock on Wednesday night?

Little Rock improves to 3-1 after beating Central Arkansas

Little Rock has opened the season with an impressive 3-1 record, which includes two road wins in their first two games away from home. The Trojans topped Central Arkansas 76-56 on the road on Sunday behind a game-high 25 points from Markquis Nowell, who led four Little Rock players in double-figures on the night. Little Rock’s defense limited Central Arkansas to just 25.5 percent shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers on the night to cruise to an easy win.

Darrell Walker’s squad comes into the week ranked No. 158 in the latest KenPom rankings after winning three of its first four games of the season. Little Rock has struggled offensively, scoring only 97.8 points per 100 possessions (188th in the NCAA) thanks to some poor shooting from beyond the arc. The Trojans have connected on only 29.4 percent of their 3-point attempts (238th in the NCAA) through four games while turning the ball over on 21.4 percent of their offensive possessions (233rd in the NCAA). Instead, they’ve done most of their damage from inside the arc or at the free-throw line, which has helped them sport an effective field goal percentage of 52.7 percent (74th in the NCAA). The Trojans also do a good job of generating second-chance opportunities on the offensive glass, hauling in 37.0 percent of their missed field goal attempts for the season (35thin the NCAA).

On defense, Little Rock forces turnovers and defends the painted area, but they’ve been fairly content to concede shots from beyond the arc. The Trojans have surrendered 97.7 points per 100 possessions (145th in the NCAA) on defense while holding their opponents to just 43.0 percent shooting from inside the ar (68th in the NCAA). They also rank in the top-100 in defensive turnover percentage (21.9 percent) but opposing teams have attempted a whopping 49.4 percent of their total attempts from 3-point range against the Trojans’ defense through four games.

Memphis bounces back without Wiseman

Memphis bounced back from its first loss of the season with a strong 102-56 victory at home over Alcorn State on Saturday. Freshman Lester Quinones scored a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead five Tigers’ players in double-figures on the night while fellow freshman Previous Achiuwa added 20 points and eight boards for Memphis, which played without star center James Wiseman for the first time this year.

Penny Hardaway’s squad enters the week slotted at No. 38 in the latest KenPom rankings following a 3-1 start to the season. The Tigers come in scoring 107.6 points per 100 possessions (26th in the NCAA) while playing at one of the fastest paces in the country. Memphis ranks eighth in the nation in adjusted tempo and they get their shots up in an average of just 13.8 seconds on offense, which ranks as the fifth-fastest mark in the country. The Tigers move the ball effectively to get good shots on offense, crashing the offensive glass and getting to the free-throw line at a high rate. However, they do most of their damage from inside the arc, where they have shot a blistering 61.7 percent (11th in the NCAA) so far this year. Memphis also sports an offensive rebounding rate of 38.8 percent (16th in the NCAA) and a free-throw rate of 45.1 percent (25th in the NCAA).

On the other end of the floor, the Tigers are among the best interior defensive teams in the country. Memphis has surrendered only 91.5 points per 100 possessions (51st in the NCAA) while forcing their opponents to turn the ball over a whopping 25.8 percent of the time (21st in the NCAA). They have limited opposing teams to just 38.8 percent shooting from 2-point range (21st in the NCAA) while sporting a block rate of 18.7 percent, which ranks ninth in the country.

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Both of these teams have similar strengths, which should play right into Memphis’ hands in this one. Little Rock does its damage from inside the arc, which is going to be a problem against a Tigers’ defense that ranks in the top-25 in effective field goal percentage defense, 2-point percentage defense, and defensive block rate coming into this game. The Trojans also rely heavily on their starting five while Hardaway isn’t afraid to turn to his bench early and often, which should give Memphis the advantage in what should turn into a fast-paced game. Take the Tigers to cover the spread without Wiseman in this non-conference battle on Wednesday night. 

Prediction: Memphis Tigers

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Memphis plays fast. They force turnovers and get out in transition while playing without any regard for the shot clock in half-court sets. Through four games, the Tigers rank in the top-10 in adjusted tempo and they get their shots up in an average of just 13.8 seconds on offense (5th in the NCAA), so I would expect a fast-paced game here. Little Rock doesn’t play at a fast pace on offense, but they like to speed their opponents up on the defensive end of the floor, which should help keep this game at a high tempo. Take this non-conference tilt to go over the projected total at the FedEx Forum in Memphis on Wednesday.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.