Memphis of the AAC faces Boise State of the Mountain West in first-round West Region NCAA Tournament action from Portland, Oregon, on Thursday afternoon. We have you covered from every angle of this matchup to help you make the right NCAAB pick. Let’s dig in.
Memphis Tigers vs. Boise State Broncos
Thursday, March 17, 2022 – 01:45 PM EDT at Moda Center
TNT has the telecast of this West Region first-round NCAA Tournament game on Thursday. Can’t imagine there will be many fans in attendance with a 10:45 a.m. local time tip from Portland. The winner will face NCAA Tournament betting favorite Gonzaga in Round 2 on Saturday unless the Zags suffer the biggest upset in event history against No. 16 Georgia State. I don’t give either of these teams much of a shot against the Zags.
These teams did play in the 2021 postseason: Memphis was a No. 1 seed in the NIT and Boise State a No. 2 and the Tigers won 59-56 in the quarterfinal round from outside Dallas. Lester Quinones made a putback with 32.5 seconds remaining and DeAndre Williams made two free throws to give the Tigers a three-point lead with 13.2 seconds left.
Both those guys remain key contributors on this year’s team. Mladen Armus had 12 points for the Broncos, and he’s still on the team.
Tigers Turned Season Around
Memphis coach Penny Hardaway can recruit, which has been well-established by landing the top freshman Class of 2021. However, there have been a lot of complaints about his actual coaching. At one point, the Tigers (21-10) looked completely rudderless at 9-8 and 3-4 in the American Athletic Conference but they would lose just twice after that, including the AAC Tournament final on Sunday to Houston, 71-53.
Memphis had beaten the Cougars, a 2021 Final Four team, twice in the regular season. The Tigers' win at No. 6 Houston on February 12th was its first over a Top-10 opponent on the road since 2005, and the Tigers have defeated three ranked teams, two in the Top 10 (also Alabama), in the same season for the first time since 2013-14.
One of those top freshman recruits by Hardaway was Emoni Bates. The five-star hasn’t played since January 27th supposedly due to a back injury and is not expected to be in the Big Dance. During the 16 games he played this season, Bates averaged 10.4 points on 38 percent shooting from the field to go along with 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
Bates has not lived up to the billing but fellow freshman Jalen Duren has in leading the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.1). He should be a 2022 NBA lottery pick. The return of DeAndre Williams (10.9 ppg) and Landers Nolley II (9.9 ppg) from injuries also helped right the ship.
To win the West Region, Memphis is +4000 at the NCAAB futures. The Tigers are 10-3 against the spread in their past 13 overall. It's’ Memphis's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
Best Season Ever for Boise State
Boise State (27-7) became just the fifth team in the history of the Mountain West to win the outright regular-season championship and the tournament title in the same year with a 53-52 victory over San Diego State in the league championship game Saturday. Boise State entered the tourney coming off its first outright regular-season conference title in more than three decades.
It's the first time the school has won an outright conference title and a conference tournament championship since 1988 when Boise State was in the Big Sky. The 27 wins are a school record. This will be the Broncos’ eighth NCAA Tournament appearance but they are 0-7 all-time. The No. 8 seed is the highest for Boise State since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Leon Rice was named the Mountain West Coach of the Year, forward Tyson Degenhart was named MW Freshman of the Year, and forward Abu Kigab, a transfer from Oregon, and guard Marcus Shaver Jr. were each named second-team All-Mountain West.
Kigab was also named to the All-Defensive Team, the first Bronco to earn the honor since Chandler Hutchison in 2017-18. BSU is a very good defensive team, holding 16 opponents under 60 points this season.
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With Degenhart as a starter, the Broncos have gone 24-4. He averages 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds, shooting 50 percent from the field. Shaver Jr. is the clutch scorer as he has made a three-pointer in the final 30 seconds of four separate games that either tied the score or gave Boise State the lead.
If Boise wins this game, it would be a second-round reunion for Rice and Gonzaga coach Mark Few. Rice spent 11 years as an assistant coach at Gonzaga and is a good friend of Few’s. To win the West Region, Boise is +5000.
While Boise has had a better regular season than Memphis, the Broncos didn’t really have any signature wins as the Tigers did. I like Memphis to win by around four points. BSU is 2-5 ATS on the NCAAB odds in its past seven following an ATS win.
NCAAB Prop Pick: Boise State Team Total Under 67.5 Points (-120) The Best Online Sportsbooks
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