Back Talented SMU -4.5 As Your NCAA Basketball Pick Against Connecticut

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, March 3, 2016 6:37 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 3, 2016 6:37 PM UTC

U Conn will travel to American Conference king SMU to take on the Mustangs tonight as they try to stay relevant enough to get a ticket to the Big Dance. Let’s review the NCAA basketball odds.

U Conn Huskies (20-9 SU, 12-12 ATS)
The Huskies welcomed the Houston Cougars to Gampel Pavilion as 9½ point favorites and suffered perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season. It was a game they needed desperately to not only improve their record but to stay competitive for an entry into March Madness. The 68 teams that ultimately vie for the National Championship are selected subjectively to a certain degree and how a team finishes is more important than how they started. Therefore losing outright at home to an almost double digit underdog is hardly the stuff of champions and a money burner for all those who included U Conn in their NCAA basketball picks on Sunday afternoon.

U Conn had not lost a game at Gampel Pavilion all season until the Cougars delivered the 75-68 upset. Sophomore guard Daniel Hamilton did his part by netting 20 points and hauling in seven rebounds but it wasn’t enough as Houston’s Damyean Dotson was not to be denied with 22 points and 14 boards. The Huskies held a narrow 33-32 edge at the half before falling behind in the second and never fully recovered.


SMU Mustangs (24-4 SU, 11-13 ATS)
SMU has won four of their last five games and covered the NCAA basketball odds in three of those five contests. In their last outing the Mustangs hammered Tulane 74-53 as 19½ home chalk with Ben Moore, Sterling Brown, Shake Milton and Jordan Tolbert all scoring in double figures. However this was hardly a box to wire win for the Mustangs as they trailed Tulane 29-28 at the half. The team now sits atop of the American Athletic Conference with a 24-4 record but it is all for naught as SMU is barred from any postseason tournaments including the conference tournament due to NCAA sanctions.

SMU has enjoyed a huge advantage on the boards this season and ranked 7th in the nation in rebound margin at 10.1. However, Tulane was up to the glass task as SMU held only a 42-40 advantage when the game ended. The Mustangs are averaging 78.0 PPG (ranked 62nd), allowing 63.9 PPG (ranked 20th) and average 39.5 rebounds per game which places them 44th in the nation. Senior guard Nic Moore leads the team in scoring averaging 16.1 points per game but was held to a woeful 1-of-9 shooting for just five points in his last outing against Tulane.


Betting Analysis
These clubs met in Storrs, Connecticut just about two weeks ago when the Huskies notched a 68-62 victory over the Mustangs as 3 ½ point home chalk. Now the venue has shifted and so too have the college basketball odds. SMU will be playing in front of their home crowd and have been installed as 5 ½ point home favorites.

The number here undoubtedly takes into account that this will be an emotional night for SMU as it is Senior Night with the last game of the regular season being played in their home gym. This club has nothing to play for except for the regular season AAC title but that will be enough. U Conn melted in the second half against a Houston team that should have been run out of their gym in their last outing. Now they take on the conference leaders and despite the fact that U Conn came out on top in their previous meeting I see two teams going in different directions at this juncture of the season.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: SMU -4½ 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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