An NIT program one season ago, now sporting the nation’s finest recruits, nationally ranked Memphis welcomes Illinois-Chicago Friday night.
Revolution abounds in Memphis where favorite son Penny Hardaway has lifted his Tigers back into national prominence. Hardaway begins his second year as the Tigers’ sideline leader. Last season Memphis won 21 games and finished 11-7 in conference play. More importantly, the Tigers group fostered a culture which attracted two five-star recruits and a secondary wave of incoming talent. Leading 2019 signee James Wiseman has stoked unlimited upward possibilities among Tigers nation.
Reloaded, No. 14 Memphis enjoys its first national ranking since 2014.
Meanwhile, a legitimate Horizon League championship threat, Illinois-Chicago returns key senior leadership. Top among those returnees is Tarkus Ferguson. Ferguson is rated by many outlets as the Horizon League’s top preseason player. UIC finished 16-16 last season, with a credible 10-8 conference mark.
Memphis opens as a -16.5 favorite according to pregame.com.
UIC ready for big momentOvermatched in talent, Illinois-Chicago’s seniors will collect an exciting atmosphere when battling Memphis. Ferguson (15.5 ppg last season), Godwin Boahen and Marcus Ottey each have the wares and firepower to press the Tigers’ perimeter. However, their best efforts can’t overcome what Hardaway and company offer.
Nonetheless, Friday’s meeting will strengthen a UIC program which used Boahen’s 22 points, and game-winning trey to edge Olivet Nazarene college Tues. Ferguson and Ottey didn’t appear during the Flames’ 75-72 season-opening win. It remains to be seen if either compete Fri.
Last season, UIC averaged 74.7 ppg and allowed 74.5 points against. Look for Memphis’ interior presence to tax Illinois-Chicago’s defense
A palpable buzz felt around Memphis.
Already atop NBA big boards as 2020’s #1 choice, Wiseman began his college career with flash Tues. night. The 7-1 phenom dropped 28 points in 22 minutes, shooting 7 of 11, as fellow touted recruit Precious Achiuwa added 14 points in 17 minutes as Memphis routed South Carolina State 97-64.
With each basket by their new frontline, a SRO FedEx Forum roared its approval to emphasize the Tigers’ rebirth. Now, Memphis is set for another glorified big tent revival exhibition vs. Chicago-Illinois.
Sporting an entirely different feel after losing four-fifths of last season’s starters, the national spotlight will reflect the Tigers’ every 19-20’ move. Though, Wiseman and Achiuwa appear unfazed.
Stylistically, it’s worth noting Hardaway pushes tempo; Memphis averaged 80.1 ppg last year, #29 NCAA. This Tigers’ defense will no doubt produce better numbers than 18-19’s #256 74.4 ppg. Expect another high-end offensive display tonight.
Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Flames are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Flames are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Flames are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
- Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall