MEMPHIS TIGERS (23-8)
vs. CONNECTICUT HUSKIES (24-7)
American Athletic Conference Tournament - Quarterfinals
FedEx Forum - Memphis, TN
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Line: Memphis -2.5, Total: 137.5
Both virtual locks for the NCAA Tournament, No. 19 Memphis and No. 21 Connecticut will look to improve their seeding when they square off in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinal on Thursday night.
These two teams played twice this season and the Huskies prevailed in both meetings. Connecticut covered as seven-point favorites on the road in a 83-73 win, but failed to cover a 6.5-point spread at home in an 86-81 overtime victory. The Tigers shot 54.8% from the field in that second loss, failing to overcome 18 turnovers while forcing just six from Connecticut. Although the Huskies have the better conference record, this game will be played at Memphis, which is hosting the tournament. UConn finished the season 15-14 ATS overall, 10-8 ATS against AAC foes, and 6-4 (SU and ATS) in true road games. The Tigers went 16-12 ATS overall and 7-7 ATS (15-2 SU) at home, and were 5-3 ATS as underdogs and 10-8 ATS against conference opponents. Although the Huskies are 52-32 ATS (62%) on the road versus very good teams (8+ PPG margin) after 15+ games since 1997, Memphis is 14-4 ATS (78%) versus good three-point shooting teams (37%+ threes) after 15+ games under head coach Josh Pastner.
Which school will advance to the conference semifinals? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a stellar 60% ATS (264-180-16) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (232-146-10) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is on an amazing Best Bets run of 20-2-2 (91% ATS) since Feb. 6, 29-5-3 (85% ATS) since Jan. 17, and 74% ATS (54-19-3) since Nov. 26 to give him a robust 70% ATS (61-26-4) record in Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave is 64% ATS (38-21-1) since in Best Bets Dec. 18 and 60% ATS (55-36-2) this season, while StatFox Scott is 65% ATS (11-6-2) since Feb. 16 and 57% ATS (51-38-4) for the season. StatFox Gary is 61% ATS (47-30) on Best Bets since Nov. 22 and 57% ATS (51-38-2) for the season.
The Tigers boast an impressive offense that averages 78.4 PPG (32nd in Div. I) on 48.5% shooting (18th in nation), set up by 17.7 APG (3rd in Div. I). With 37.7 RPG (46th in nation), they outrebound their opponents by +2.8 RPG. Their issues can be on the defensive end, where they yield 70.4 PPG (186th in Div. I) on 43.1% shooting, but are quick enough to rack up 8.7 SPG (8th in nation). PG Joe Jackson (14.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.6 APG) leads their scoring and passing efforts and put up 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting in the OT loss to the Huskies. Guards Geron Johnson (9.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.0 APG) and Chris Crawford (8.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.0 APG) are also solid passers in the backcourt. SG Michael Dixon Jr. (12.2 PPG) is more of a shooter, hitting 1.5 threes per game on a 39.3% clip. PF Shaq Goodwin (11.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG) is the teamís premier post player, averaging 1.8 BPG to go along with a solid offensive game. Although he's made just 25% FG in his past three games, Goodwin went 7-of-17 from the field in the two games against Connecticut.
Senior PG Shabazz Napier (17.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.2 APG) is the top scorer, rebounder and passer for the Huskies, who average 72.6 PPG (126th in Div. I) on 44.6% shooting (156th in nation). But this club certainly has the edge defensively in this game, allowing just 63.4 PPG (35th in Div. I) on a stingy 39.1% FG (11th in nation) thanks to a hefty 6.1 BPG (9th in Div. I). Napier poured in 25.5 PPG in the two meetings against Memphis this season, but he is coming off a poor 2-of-13 performance in the teamís regular-season finale, a humiliating 81-48 loss to No. 5 Louisville. He can be a weapon defensively too, averaging 1.8 SPG. Napier is joined in the backcourt by SG Ryan Boatright (12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.5 APG), who is more of a natural passer who makes only 37.9% of his field goals this season. PF DeAndre Daniels (12.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG) will have to battle a much stronger Goodwin in the post, and he actually performed well against a tough Louisville frontcourt with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Daniels also played very well in the first meeting against Memphis with 23 points (9-of-15 FG) and 11 rebounds, but he struggled in the second go-around with a mere eight points (2-for-8 FG) to go along with six rebounds. UConn has been a fantastic three-point shooting team this season (38.4%, 37th in nation) thanks in large part to SF Niels Giffey (8.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG) draining half of his 88 three-point tries in his senior season.