CONNECTICUT HUSKIES (13-3)
at MEMPHIS TIGERS (12-3)
FedEx Forum - Memphis, TN
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Memphis -6.5, Total: 140.5
Off to a disappointing 1-2 start in American Conference play, Connecticut begins a stretch of back-to-back games against ranked conference foes when it heads to No. 17 Memphis on Thursday night.
The Huskies began the year well, jumping out to a 9-0 start that included a win against then-No. 15 Florida. But they are 4-3 SU (3-4 ATS) in their past seven games, earning their first conference win with a 84-61 blowout against UCF on Saturday. Prior to that, they beat Harvard, but they are just 3-14 ATS (18%) after two or more consecutive SU wins over the past two seasons. Connecticut is 6-8 ATS overall this season and a dreadful 1-6 ATS in non-home games. Memphis lost to the same Florida team 77-75, covering a three-point spread, but has a couple of high-quality wins this season, beating then-No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 12 Louisville, a team UConn will host on Saturday. They are a solid 8-5 ATS, though just 1-4 ATS at home. Memphis beat Temple 79-69 on Saturday, but the team is 2-11 ATS in home games after a double-digit win of at least 10 points over the past two seasons. These teams have met only once in recent memory, with Memphis winning and covering an eight-point spread, 81-70, at a neutral site in 2007.
Can UConn pick up a crucial road win on Thursday night, or will Memphis post a comfortable victory? 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 61% ATS (153-100-5) mark, including a stellar 65% ATS (121-66) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is leading the way at 63% ATS (32-19-1) for the season and 68% ATS (25-12) since Nov. 26. StatFox Zach is 62% ATS (31-19-1) on Best Bets this season, including 68% ATS (25-12) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Scott is 62% ATS (32-20) for the season and 67% ATS (22-11) since Dec. 2. StatFox Gary is 59% ATS (29-20-2) for the season and 68% ATS (21-10) since Dec. 3, and StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (29-22-1) for the season and 63% ATS (12-7) since Dec. 18.
Connecticutís calling card is as one of the most efficient three-point shooting teams in the nation, knocking down 41.4% of their attempts from deep (8th in Div. I). That shooting has been cold lately though, as the team has made more than 34% threes just once in their past seven games. The Huskies arenít bad defensively either, holding their opponents to 64.6 PPG on 38.5% FG and 32.3% threes. PG Shabazz Napier (16.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 6.0 APG) is the teamís savior, hitting clutch shots and pacing the team in scoring, passing and rebounding. He has been cold from the field over the past three games though, making just 9-of-31 shots (29%). He is joined in the backcourt by SG Ryan Boatright (12.8 PPG, 3.6 APG), who is hitting 42% of his threes on the season. Down low, PF DeAndre Daniels (12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG) is UConn's biggest threat, swatting 1.6 BPG and stretching defenses with a 45% clip from beyond the arc. Heís 9-for-17 from distance over the teamís past four contests. But the Huskies got a huge boost from 7-foot freshman C Amida Brimah (3.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.9 BPG in 13.5 MPG) in its 23-point win over UCF on Saturday, as Brimah poured in 20 points (8-of-10 FG), eight rebounds and five blocks in just 20 minutes of action. His presence will be needed in combatting an excellent Memphis offense.
Josh Pastnerís Memphis squad has an offense that averages 79.9 PPG (35th in Div. I) on a solid 47.3% FG (62nd in nation) with 39.5 RPG (33rd in Div. I) and 16.6 APG (17th in nation). Though they allow opponents to score 69.5 PPG on 43% FG, the Tigers force an impressive 16.6 turnovers per game (12th in Div. I). Senior PG Joe Jackson (14.7 PPG, 3.9 APG) leads the offense in passing and scoring as the only player on the team logging more than 30.0 MPG. Heís hitting a miserable 19% of his threes for the season, including 0-for-10 over his past three games, but heís a strong defender with 1.9 SPG. Fellow senior SG Chris Crawford (9.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.2 APG) is the teamís leading steal-getter with 2.0 SPG, and is coming off a well-rounded game at Temple on Saturday (9 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists). Senior SG Michael Dixon Jr. (11.3 PPG), who has scored in double-figures in 10 of 15 games this season, rounds out the backcourt. Down low, sophomore PF Shaq Goodwin (13.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG) is a load to deal with at 242 pounds, but he is nimble enough to average 1.5 BPG and 1.4 SPG. Heís hitting 65% of his FG attempts this season, and is coming off a 23-point, 11-rebound double-double against Temple.