Murray State vs. Memphis NCAA Basketball Picks and Odds Breakdown

Tevin Brown #10 of the Murray State Racers defends against SIU-Edwardsville Cougars. Joe Robbins/Getty Images/AFP

Top sportsbooks have released their odds for tonight’s contest between Murray State and Memphis. Whereas the Racers have reeled off four straight victories, the Tigers have lost three in a row. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.

Murray State Racers vs. Memphis Tigers

Friday, December 10, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at FedExForum 

Fade Memphis

Memphis is suffering 0-3 SU and ATS losing streaks. They are still favored by oddsmakers because, on paper, they are a very talented team. It is only in video games, though, where great talent automatically entails great results.

Because talent isn’t everything, Memphis is repeatedly far from covering the spread. Despite being favored by 11.5 against Iowa State, the Tigers lost by 19. Afterward, they were favored by the same amount at Georgia and lost by three. Most recently, they were favored by one at Ole Miss and lost by four.

Hopeless At Least For Now

Know for your sports betting that the Tigers are suffering from the sort of problems that do not fix themselves easily.

These problems have to do so intensely with chemistry that one may label them cultural. Tiger players are generally selfish, looking to build their own NBA resume rather than supporting teammates.

The problem is most visible in the half-court offense where individual players dribble into double-teams or otherwise fail to get their teammates involved, instead of trying to score despite the opportunities presented or not presented to them by the defense.

Before backtracking for diplomatic reasons, Coach Hardaway called out the upperclassmen for being selfish, for not taking the younger players under their wings.

This discord is partly a product of the exciting young talent in Memphis’ ranks: Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates are former five-star recruits who have justly received a lot of hype.

Older Tiger players, though, also have their own individual ambitions. There are also a lot of players seeking to earn playing time and to make the most of their opportunities.

This abundance of players is necessary for Coach Hardaway given the breakneck tempo that he likes his team to play at. More tempo means that players get tired more easily, which creates a greater need for substitutions.

Part of the problem is that it will take time for Coach Hardaway to figure out who to play and when in order to facilitate the most team chemistry. He is repeatedly switching lineups in a game and from game to game and it will take time to establish what works.


Poor team chemistry certainly contributes to Memphis’ insanely high rate of turnovers on offense. The Tiger offense ranks 351st out of 358 teams in limiting its rate of turnovers.

But the problem is also personnel-related. Memphis’ offense lacks a reliable point guard. Alex Lomax starts at the position, yet is often good for about one turnover every seven minutes. He’s not the only one, though, who is a great liability in this respect.

Memphis’ tendency to turn the ball over will play into a strength of the Murray State defense. Racer defenders excel at compelling opposing ball-handlers to collide with other Racer defenders, such that numerical advantages surface for Murray State’s defense.

Quick reaction skills of individual defenders plus general team pressure and aggressiveness, which hectically speeds up the opposing offense, help explain the superb rate at which Murray State generates turnovers.

Nationally, the Racer defense forces turnovers at the 25th-highest rate. Keep this stat in mind for your best bets.

Offensively, Murray State benefits from starting a point guard who doesn’t share Lomax’s issue with turnovers. Basketball comes down to making the most out of one’s possessions and the Racers will create so many extra possessions for themselves by dominating the turnover battle.

Racer Half-Court Offense

Offensively, Murray State relies heavily on former Gamecock guard/forward Trae Hannibal. One asset of Hannibal is his ability to be physical while attacking the basket. He’s great at using his body to keep his on-ball defender on his hip and he’s a strong finisher at the basket.

Given his physicality, he is one of the best in the nation, statistically speaking, at drawing fouls. He’ll have sundry and-one opportunities against an often overly aggressive Tiger defense that ranks 340th in limiting the opponent’s foul rate.

His driving as well as that of quick point guard Justice Hill, the team’s top assist-getter, will create open three-point attempts, via the drive-and-kick, especially for Tevin Brown.

Brown has been red-hot during Murray State’s ongoing win streak. He is 12-of-23 from deep in his team’s last four games. Center KJ Williams was the top Racer scorer last year where he established himself as a versatile, multi-level point-getter.

Look for Williams to pop behind the arc after setting a screen or to quickly go to work in the post. His efficiency will help him threaten a Tiger defense that has lately avoided top-scoring bigs, although it allowed Georgia center Braelen Bridges to solidly earn a higher-than-usual offensive rating.

Expert Pick

Memphis has too many issues — chemistry- and personnel-related — to be reliable.

Expect the Tigers to be on upset alert, again, this time at the hands of a Racer squad that will pressure them defensively, attack them at the basket, and create balance with three-point shooting. For the above reasons, invest in Murray State with your NCAAB Picks.

NCAAB Pick: Murray State +10.5 (-105) at DraftKings