Memphis vs. Illinois-Chicago prediction, line: Tigers won’t cover

Chicago News

The Memphis Tigers come into the college basketball season with the top recruiting class in the country and a lot of hype, but have the challenge of facing a veteran Illinois-Chicago squad on Friday.

The Flames return three players who scored at least 14.8 points per game last year in Marcus Ottey, Godwin Boahen and Tarkus Ferguson. Ottey and Ferguson were held out of the team’s season opener due to suspension, but likely be back for this game.

As for Memphis, 7-foot-1 James Wiseman had an impressive debut against South Carolina State with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. He leads a group of five freshmen starters that was able to cover the spread with a 97-64 win. This young group faces a tandem in Ottey and Ferguson that has scored more than 2,500 combined points in their college careers, the only duo in the country with that many points.

The Tigers went 19-of-21 at the free-throw line in the opener, something that might be tough for this team to duplicate given their perimeter shooting was just average and they went 6-of-20 from 3-point range.

The Tigers look good, but to bet on a starting five loaded with freshmen to cover a big double-digit spread in Game 2 is asking a lot. A veteran Flames bunch should keep things close and cause the Tigers to work harder than they did against South Carolina State.

The play: Illinois-Chicago, +16¹/₂.

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