This week in Tennessee sports news: the Titans face a win-and-in scenario, the Predators catch fire, Ja Morant breaks the internet, and James Wiseman leaves Memphis. Read below to catch up on a packed week of Tennessee sports and visit your favorite free to play sportsbook, Action 247, for a chance to win real cash prizes.
The Titans jumped out to an early 14-0 lead at home against the 3-loss Saints this past Sunday but ultimately fell 38-28. The dynamic combination of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara proved to be too much for the Tennessee D to handle. The Saints scored touchdowns on each of their first three second-half drives and never looked back. The game didn’t mean much for the Titans playoff chances, which explains why the coaching staff decided to sit Derrick Henry in the hopes he’s fully healthy for Week 17.
Going into Sunday, the Titans were tied with the Steelers for the second AFC Wild Card spot at 8-6. Pittsburgh struggled on the road in a 16-10 loss against the Jets. That defeat means Tennessee still controls their own destiny heading into the last week of the season. If the Titans beat the Texans this Sunday (3:25 p.m. kickoff), they’re in. If they lose, they’ll need losses from both the Steelers and Colts to punch their ticket. Everything is in front of them for the taking. It’s time for Derrick Henry and the offense to rise to the occasion.
The Predators four-game road trip last week could not have gone better. Nashville notched seven of eight possible points with three wins and an overtime loss. Two of those road victories came against the Bruins and Islanders, who are both Top 3 in the Eastern Conference. The Predators were led by Roman Josi who tallied six goals and one assist over the four-game stretch. Josi is playing the best hockey of his career right now, which has helped the Preds mask some of their glaring issues including an anemic power play offense.
The Predators still have plenty of work to do to get where they want to be in the standings. The seven-point week helped Nashville reach the 40-point mark, good for ninth in the Western Conference. “Nobody on this team was happy with the way we were playing and the position we were in,” said Josi. “We’re still not happy where we are in the standings, so we’ve got to keep pushing.” The Preds will look to keep the momentum rolling this week as they host the Coyotes and Penguins and round out the week with a trip to Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Memphis went 2-2 last week, winning at home against the Heat and Kings and suffering road losses to the Thunder and Cavaliers. Ja Morant stole the show once again with his near-poster over Kevin Love. In the first quarter against the Cavs, Morant drove the lane and attempted to jump over Love, who was in position to take a charge. Morant couldn’t complete the highlight, but that didn’t stop the video clip from taking over social media. Love got in on the fun after the game by saying, “Ja almost ended my professional career with this dunk…that kid is something special.” Morant’s fearless and aggressive play will surely keep Tennessee entertained for years to come.
The Grizzlies will play two at home (Spurs, Hornets) and two on the road (Thunder, Nuggets) this week. Memphis will continue to rely on its young stars to create a sense of hope and excitement for an 11-19 team. Look for rookie Brandon Clarke to build off his strong play of late. Clarke has been incredibly efficient this year, averaging 13 points per game on 65% shooting from the field.
College Basketball in Tennessee
The biggest news story of the 2019-2020 college basketball season came this week when Memphis star freshman center James Wiseman decided to leave the program amidst his 12-game suspension by the NCAA. Wiseman, who is projected as the 3rd overall pick in ESPN’s 2020 NBA mock draft, was serving his suspension for accepting $11,000 from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway to cover moving expenses while Wiseman was in high school. The gift came before Hardaway started his college coaching career.
Instead of returning to a top 10 Memphis team for the second half of the season, Wiseman has elected to work out privately in preparation for the draft in June. These developments are a big blow to not only Memphis but the NCAA itself. It is a major red flag for an institution that relies on player star power to drive fan interest. Four of the top six NBA draft prospects (according to ESPN) are currently not competing in the NCAA. It’s clear that the NCAA needs to make major changes tailored to its student-athletes to avoid increasing irrelevancy.
Memphis is still a very talented basketball team. They have not lost since losing Wiseman and moved up to #9 in this week’s AP poll. They’ll look to put the distractions behind them over the holidays and return to action Saturday against New Orleans.
Weekly Tennessee Sports Schedule
Titans at Texans — Sun 12/29 @ 3:25 p.m.
Grizzlies vs Spurs — Mon 12/23 @ 7 p.m.
Grizzlies at Thunder — Thu 12/26 @ 7 p.m.
#9 Memphis vs New Orleans — Sat 12/28 @ 12:30 p.m.
Tennessee vs Wisconsin — Sat 12/28 @ 12:30 p.m.
Grizzlies at Nuggets — Sat 12/28 @ 4 p.m.
Grizzlies vs Hornets — Sun 12/29 @ 7 p.m.
Predators vs Coyotes — Mon 12/23 @ 7 p.m.
Predators vs Penguins — Fri 12/27 @ 7 p.m.
Predators at Penguins — Sat 12/28 @ 6 p.m.
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