NCAA Basketball Pick: SMU Mustangs -6 over Rhode Island Rams

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, November 11, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The SMU Mustangs look like a much improved team under Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown with five returning starters and three big additions, so take SMU over Rhode Island.

The home team returns its entire starting lineup from last season under a Hall of Fame head coach, but three additions should make the team even tougher to beat Monday night when the Rhode Island Rams (1-0, 0-0 away) pay a visit to those SMU Mustangs (1-0, 0-0 away) at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, TX at 8:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has SMU as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -6 with odds of -101.

SMU is coached by Hall of Famer Larry Brown, one of the few coaches that has had success in both the NCAA and the NBA level, and the Mustangs improved in his first year at the school last season finishing 15-17. The Mustangs now get a chance to avenge a 72-50 loss to Rhode Island last year on the road in Kingston, and they certainly appear to have the horses (pun intended) to do so.

That win by the Rams was one of the very few highlights in a season that saw them go just 8-21 while ranking 211th in the country and last in the Atlantic 10 in offensive efficiency. Rhode Island did open this season with a 97-77 win on Friday, but do not read too much into that as those 97 points came vs. the Maine Black Bears from the lightly regarded America East Conference, a team that finished 220th in defensive efficiency last year.

Brown seemed pleased with the progress the Mustangs made last season from the final season of the old regime two years ago, but he was absolutely gushing about two transfers that had to sit last year out, and Brown now has the chance to unleash them! Those are Illinois State transfer Nic Moore and Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy, and Moore already made an impact in a 69-61 win over TCU in Dallas on Friday, leading the way with 13 points and eight rebounds.

But wait, there is more! In addition to the two transfers, SMU also scored the top junior college prospect in the nation in Yanick Moreira. That kind of depth has some experts believing that SMU has a legitimate chance of finishing second in the AAC this season, although nobody expects them to threaten the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals for the conference title.

Although the Atlantic 10 is now one of the better mid-major conferences in the country, Rhode Island has been a bottom tier team in the conference for several years and there is no reason to expect much improvement this season. Yes, the Rams dominated Maine, especially in the rebounding department finishing with a 55-28 edge with 19 offensive rebounds helping to contribute to the high point total.

However, do not expect that same board domination vs. a better opponent here as SMU should prevail safely at home en route to becoming a vastly improved team this season.

[gameodds]14/249111/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: SMU -6 (-101)

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