James Wiseman Departure Makes Memphis Longer NCAA Title Bet
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James Wiseman has left college basketball to prepare for the NBA, and the Memphis Tigers have seen their odds of winning the NCAA national championship get longer as a result.
The talented freshman announced via Instagram on Thursday that he had withdrawn from Memphis to prepare for the “next chapter” of his basketball career, ending a saga that included a lawsuit against the NCAA and a suspension that was to keep him off the court for the Tigers until Jan. 12. Now the college career of the projected No. 1 NBA draft pick is over — after Wiseman played just three games.
“This is not how I expected my freshman season to be,” he wrote on Instagram, “but I’m thankful for everyone who has supported me and my family through this process.”
View this post on Instagram
Today I formally withdrew from the University of Memphis and I will be preparing for the next chapter of my life. Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the NBA. Throughout this process, I’ve asked God to ordain my steps and lead me in the right direction. God is my lord and salvation, and throughout this process he has comforted me. This was not how I expected my freshman season to be, but I’m thankful for everyone who has supported my family and me throughout this process. I want to thank the coaches and staff for all their support and my teammates for pushing me everyday at practice. I feel blessed for the opportunity to be a Tiger and for having the honor to play with these special group of guys. I can’t wait to see what all they accomplish this season. The friends and fans of Tiger Nation will always hold a place in my heart. #GoTigersGo 🐯🔵🐯
Wiseman’s departure is clearly a blow for Memphis, which is reflected in the Tigers’ odds of winning the title. After starting the season with +2200 college basketball betting odds of winning the national championship, Memphis’ odds on Thursday fell to +3000, according to FanDuel.
And yet though the certain one-and-done player hasn’t played since Nov. 12, the Tigers have forged on: They stand at 9-1 and are winners of seven straight entering their game Dec. 21 against Jackson State. Their last time out, the 11th-ranked Tigers upset a ranked Tennessee team in Knoxville as a 6.5-point underdogs.
Lawsuits and Injunctions Involving NCAA
Wiseman’s eligibility issues stem from $11,500 that his family received from Tigers head coach Anfernee Hardaway to move from Nashville to Memphis. Hardaway at the time hadn’t yet been named Tigers coach, but was running an AAU program that he wanted Wiseman — ranked the No. 1 recruit in the nation out of high school, according to ESPN — to play for. Wiseman was allegedly unaware of the transaction.
Since Hardaway — one of the great players in Memphis history — was then classified by the NCAA as a booster, the financial assistance was considered a violation and Wiseman was declared ineligible. He sued for reinstatement and a judge issued an injunction, which enabled Memphis to play the 7-footer even though he was considered ineligible in the eyes of the NCAA.
Wiseman played three games, wins over South Carolina State and Illinois-Chicago and a loss to Oregon, averaging 19.6 points per outing.
On Nov. 20, the NCAA announced that Wiseman would be reinstated as of Jan. 12, after serving a suspension that would amount to 12 games total. The NCAA also said Wiseman needed to donate to charity the $11,500 that the NCAA had considered an illegal benefit. Wiseman dropped his lawsuit against the NCAA as a result.
The Tigers’ odds of winning the title waxed and waned as Wiseman’s eligibility hung in the balance, shortening back to +2000 after the NCAA reinstated him as of Jan. 12.
Memphis Tigers’ Conference, NCAA Odds
But now Wiseman will never return for the Tigers. Memphis’ current title odds of +3000 are 16th best among teams on the board at FanDuel, well behind the +900 of top odds choice Louisville. Duke, Maryland and Ohio State are all tied for No. 2 odds choice at +1100. The Tigers’ Final Four odds now stand at +750, according to FanDuel.
But perhaps due to their results without Wiseman, the Tigers remain the betting co-favorites to win the American Athletic Conference, according to odds posted at 888 Sport. Memphis as of Thursday remained tied in top odds with Cincinnati at +250, with Wichita State holding third-best odds of winning the league at +300.