WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS (9-0)
at TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS (4-3)
Tip-off: Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Tennessee -1, Total: 119
Wichita State can start its year with a perfect 10 wins if it can pull off a tough victory at Tennessee on Thursday night.
The Shockers are not only off to a 9-0 SU start, but they’re also an impressive 5-1-1 ATS. They won as a heavy underdog at VCU in mid-November, and won, but didn’t cover, at Air Force two weeks ago. The Vols, meanwhile, are coming off back-to-back road losses, and managed a mere 74 points combined while dropping games to Georgetown and Virginia on the road.
Can the Shockers keep their perfect start going? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts have a collective 6-4 ATS mark over three days, boosting them to a collective 51% ATS (114-109-6) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who is 11-7 ATS (61%) since Nov. 26 and 59% ATS (24-17) for the season. StatFox Dave is at 52% ATS (42-39-2) on the year, helped out by a 4-0 ATS mark over the past four days. StatFox Brian is 10-7 ATS (59%) since Nov. 30.
Wichita State’s early success has been largely due to excellent defensive play. The team is allowing only 58.8 PPG and 38% FG. The Shockers gave up just 62.4 PPG and 39% FG last season, and they have a streak of 14 straight games holding opponents to less than 70 points. They’re also deep, with nine players averaging 13 minutes per game. Offensively, they’ve been led by the frontcourt tandem of senior Carl Hall (13.1 PPG on 53% FG, 7.4 RPG) and JUCO transfer SF Cleanthony Early (13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG in 22.8 MPG), who moved into the starting lineup three games ago.
Tennessee has fallen into an absurd funk on the offensive end, averaging 37.0 PPG on 31% FG and 17% 3-pt FG in losses to Georgetown and Virginia. But this is a team that has shot the ball much better at home the past two seasons, averaging 71.3 PPG on 47% FG and 36% 3-pt FG at home, versus just 63.5 PPG on 40% FG and 33% 3-pt FG in road and neutral court games. With PF Jeronne Maymon once again nursing a knee injury, the Vols are relying heavily on talented sophomore PF Jarnell Stokes (11.9 PPG on 56% FG, 7.9 RPG). Their biggest problem has been shaky play from their backcourt, as PG Trae Golden (11.6 PPG, 4.6 APG), SG Skylar McBee (7.3 PPG) and sixth man SG Jordan McRae (8.9 PPG) are all hitting less than 40% of their shots and 35% of their threes.