The 2019-20 Memphis basketball team was supposed to be one best in school history with Coach Penny Hardaway bringing in easily the best recruiting class ever there and that group ranked No. 1 in the country. However, after a strong start things have gone downhill fast and the Tigers' chances of getting an NCAA Tournament at-large bid could vanish completely if they lose a fourth straight game on Wednesday against a not-good East Carolina side in American Athletic Conference action. Memphis is a 13-point favorite on the college basketball odds for the 7 p.m. ET tip on the CBS Sports Network from the FedExForum.
At one point, Memphis (17-8, 6-6 AAC) was ranked No. 9 in the country and 12-1. However, then questions arose about Wiseman's eligibility and the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft decided to just quit school entirely and focus on preparing for the draft. Huge loss for Hardaway as Wiseman looked like the best freshman in the nation, averaging 19.7 points on 76.9 percent shooting along with 10.7 rebounds.
In addition, Hardaway lost another excellent freshman D.J. Jeffries in late January to a knee injury that originally was forecast to sideline him 4-6 weeks. Jeffries was averaging 10.8 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Tigers and is still out. Another freshman, guard Lester Quinones Jr., missed a handful of games earlier with a broken hand but is back now.
This past Saturday, Memphis lost a third in a row to an unranked team, 64-61 at UConn. CBS Sports bracketology expert Jerry Palm wrote: "Memphis is almost off the bubble after a third straight loss, only one of was to a potential tournament team. They now have a couple of must-win games at home coming up if they want any chance to play their way in as an at-large team." Palm does not have Memphis currently even among the "first four out."
Losing to East Carolina (10-16, 4-9 AAC) would be nothing short of a killer. The Pirates were competitive Saturday but lost at home in overtime to Cincinnati. Sophomore forward Jaylen Gardner leads the team in scoring (20.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.6 rpg) but no other players averages 10 points.
This is the only scheduled meeting between ECU and Memphis. The Pirates are 8-3 ATS on college basketball picks in the past 11 in the series.
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