CBB: South Carolina State vs Memphis Pick
South Carolina State vs Memphis Preview
As the 2019-20 college basketball season tips-off, Penny Hardaway is on the brink of something special in Memphis. Just his second season at the helm, he has his alma mater ranked No.14 in the nation and one could argue that is low for how talented this squad is.
Coming off a 22-14 season that included a second-round loss at Creighton in the NIT, Memphis has reloaded in a big way. Its seven-man recruiting class enters rated No. 1 in the nation, and for Tigers fans who remember the glory days of the 1980s and ’90s, the sky seems to be the limit.
“We’re ready to get going,” Hardaway said. “We are itching to see how they are going to mesh on the floor.”
One-sided exhibition wins over Christian Brothers and Lemoyne-Owen have provided a few clues, one of which suggests that freshman forward Precious Achiuwa might live up to his first name. He averaged 21.5 points and 10 boards in those games, ringing up 22 and nine in an 86-53 decision Oct. 24 over Christian Brothers.
Other freshmen such as guard Boogie Ellis, guard Lester Quinones and forward D.J. Jeffries displayed their abilities in the final exhibition agaijnst LeMoyne-Owen on Oct. 28. Ellis scored 18 points, Quinones pulled down 10 rebounds and scored nine points while Jeffries had 11 points and nine boards.
The most promising freshman, James Wiseman, is notably absent from that list–he missed the exhibitions due to an ankle injury but will be ready to play tonight.
“He makes my job a lot easier by being on the floor,” Hardaway told Forbes.com. “Obviously, he’s the No. 1 player in the country coming into this season and he’s very dominant. James is James.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a long 8-26 campaign, that did not deliver many smiles to the team–but on the bright side, they return nine players and were picked to finish in fifth-place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
The marquee name on the roster is 6-8 senior forward Damani Applewhite, who averaged 16.8 points and 7.4 rebounds last year en route to third team all-conference honors. Forward Ozante Fields (8.4 ppg, 4.9 rebounds per game) and guard Jahmari Etienne (8.5 ppg) also return after being key contributors last year.
“People often ask what the benefit is of playing the schedule we play,” Bulldogs coach Murray Garvin said. “My answer is always the same. I see it as a great opportunity for our players. We have worked extremely hard this offseason and look forward to the chance to compete against a nationally ranked program like Memphis.”
Garvin is entering his eighth season on the job. He has led the Bulldogs to a winning record once, when they finished 19-15 in 2015-16.
South Carolina State will be improved this season in their own conference–but they are nowhere near Memphis’ level. Penny should have his guys focused and ready to play, making this game a runaway by halftime.
LINE: Memphis -29
Score Prediction: Memphis 94 South Carolina State 60
Dan’s Bet: Memphis -29
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