Two of the best the AAC has to offer go at it in a college basketball odds battle on Thursday when the SMU Mustangs host Temple Owls at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.
The good news for Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs is they're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with only four regular season games left. The bad news is all four games remaining on the college basketball betting slate are tough ones, each team more than capable of knocking the Mustangs from the top of the American Athletic Conference ranks.
The first of those four contests takes place Thursday night on the SMU campus where the Temple Owls arrive sitting just a game-&-a-half behind the Ponies in the AAC race. ESPN2 will be on hand to televise the matchup beginning at 7 PM (ET), and SMU is a 6½ point favorite after opening a half-point higher.
The NCAA basketball odds have yet to pick up a total for the game, so bettors are advised to check back later Thursday morning.
Mustangs Look To Cage Owls A 2nd Time
We're seeing more and more rematches as conference schedules wind down, and that's the case with the Owls and Mustangs on Thursday. It has been a little more than a month since the clubs squared off in Philadelphia, SMU leaving town with a 60-55 triumph as a 3 point road 'dog.
The Mustangs won it with some solid glass work, denying the Owls many second chances on an evening they shot about 41% from the field. The final margin of victory can be found at the free-throw line where SMU connected on 14-of-16 tries while Temple missed 5-of-12 from the charity stripe.
That January 14 matchup never really threatened a 126 point total, leaving all three clashes between the schools as AAC foes 'under' the mark. Temple leads the all-time series, 3-2, the rivalry dormant from 1956 until last year's two contests.
Owls Bring 7-Game Win Streak To Big D
One bad week in mid-January is all that's standing between Temple (19-7 straight up, 12-10-1 against the spread) and a top 25 ranking right now. The setback vs. SMU was in the middle of a 3-game slide for Fran Dunphy's ballers, the other two defeats coming to Tulsa and Cincinnati, and the Owls responded with seven consecutive wins after that major dip on the schedule.
Temple covered six of the wins during the streak, the other a push last Saturday in a 66-53 decision over East Carolina. The Owls dominated the first 20 minutes to take a 16-point lead into the locker room, but took their foot off the gas in the second half to leave their backers settling for the push on a -13 line.
Dunphy is expecting to get Obi Enechionyia back for Thursday's game; the 6-8 freshman has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury.
Ponies With 3-Straight Wins, 3-Straight 'Overs'
While one 7-day stretch hurt the Owls, it's been a case of one team being the difference for Southern Methodist (21-5 SU, 11-10-2 ATS) between a 12-2 conference record and perfect 14-0 mark. The Mustangs have fallen just twice since before Thanksgiving, and both setbacks were at the hands of the Cincinnati Bearcats, most recently on February 5 at home in a 62-54 decision that pushed a 116 point total.
Brown has the Mustangs playing about as well on defense as any team in the country. They're tops in AAC games limiting opponents to under 38% shooting from the field, and 19th in the country holding teams to just over 59 PPG in all games.
The Mustangs have won three straight since losing a second time to the Bearcats, and all three games have gone 'over' the scoreboard figure. I suspect we'll see a total around 126-127 and will bank on the low side for my free college basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Temple-SMU Under at BetOnline