Tuesday’s game at the FedEx Forum matches two teams headed in opposite directions. Once ranked in the top 10, Memphis has lost four straight games and now faces a tough stretch in the schedule, with back-to-back games against Alabama and Tennessee.
The Tigers are now 5-4 on the year and looking to stay above .500 against the Crimson Tide. Let’s take a look at the NCAAB odds for this game.
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Memphis Tigers
Tuesday, December 14, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at FedExForum
Memphis already has close losses to a pair of SEC teams during the current slump, losing to Georgia by three and Ole Miss by four. A 19-point loss to Iowa State started the skid, and the most recent loss was at home to Murray State, by two.
The Crimson Tide comes to Memphis ranked No. 6 in the country and riding a four-game winning streak. The Tide is coming off of wins over Gonzaga and Houston. Alabama’s lone loss was to Iona, by four, on Thanksgiving. Since then, the Tide has beaten Drake and Miami, in addition to the Zags and Cougars, to arrive at 8-1 on the year.
Flipping Last Year’s Script
The Crimson Tide made the Sweet 16 last season led by an elite defense and an offense that was good enough. This year, Alabama has reversed things. After finishing No. 30 in Division I in offense last year, the Tide is No. 8 in the country in offensive efficiency and scores 86 ppg, which is No. 7. Meanwhile, the defense, No. 3 last season, is now No. 31.
Bama has plenty of scoring options. Four Crimson Tide players average 9.8 ppg or better, led by Jaden Shackelford, at 19.1 points and nearly seven rebounds. They also have two skilled passers to lead the show in Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison, tied for the team lead in assist average. Quinerly also averages 15.1 points.
The Tide is getting good shots, hitting better than 58 percent on two-pointers, which is in the top 10, nationally. Shackelford is the team’s best three-point option, hitting 45.6 percent to lead the SEC. Coach Nate Oats is concerned about Alabama’s rebounding, after surrendering 21 offensive boards to Houston last time out.
Obviously, defensive rebounding was a major problem against Houston,” Oats said. “Memphis actually has a higher offensive rebounding rate than Houston did, so that’s a huge point of emphasis. … Memphis’s talent level is really high, maybe the most talented team 1-11 that we’ve seen all year. And they are going to get this thing righted at some point. … We already know it doesn’t take much to slip. It was not that long ago we lost to Iona.”
Trying to Snap Out of It
Memphis is looking for answers after seeing a 5-0 start to the season turn south. Coach Penny Hardaway has complained that the team’s veterans and the nation’s top incoming freshman class are not playing together, leading to a rift on the team. He’s clearly looking for the way to solve the puzzle, using five different starting lineups in nine games.
So far, things haven’t gelled. Memphis has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio on the year, and, despite being loaded with talent, the whole has been less than the sum of impressive parts.
“Yeah, you’ve just got to keep working, man,” Hardaway said. “All I can do as a coach is keep working. Four games in a row, you’ve said every speech. You’ve said everything that needed to be said. I just have to keep pushing us in the right direction.”
The Tigers are too good to be this bad. With freshman scoring leader Emoni Bates and rebounding leader Jalen Duren, as well as the remnants of the top recruiting class in the nation two years ago—Lester Quinones and Landers Nolley, Memphis is a sleeping giant. Look for the Tigers to get an upset at home in Alabama’s first true road game of the season for the NCAAB pick in this game.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.