NCAA Basketball Picks Michigan vs. SMU: Side With Home Favorite

Teddy Covers

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 7:19 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015 7:19 PM UTC

The Michigan Wolverines are in full rebuilding mode as they travel to Dallas to square off against the #19 SMU Mustangs.  With a nice spread we are siding with the home favorites tonight.

College Hoops Betting Preview: Michigan vs. SMU Mustangs -6.5, O/U 136.5
Recommendation: Take SMU (#540)

Michigan is very much a ‘work in progress’ at this early stage of the college basketball season. They’ve been good enough to beat their weaker foes, but the Wolverines have one clear weakness that their quality foes have been good enough to exploit – a lack of low post size and muscle. Their leading rebounder is -7 guard Caris LeVert. Their second leading rebounder is 6-1 guard Derrick Walton. None of the four biggest guys on the roster play more than 16 minutes per game; role players.

The Wolverines just lost the rebounding battle to Houston Baptist in their last game. In losses to Xavier and UConn by a combined 30 points, Michigan was outrebounded by a combined 25 boards. This is going to be a problem for John Beilein’s squad all year – there’s no short term fix for a lack of low post muscle. And it’s a problem that is likely to be exacerbated when the Wolverines step up in class, like they are tonight.

SMU beat Michigan by double digits in Ann Arbor last year, and there’s no reason to think Tim Jankovich’s (Larry Brown’s replacement during his NCAA mandated early season suspension) Mustangs won’t be able to do it again tonight. It’s surely worth noting that SMU won the battle of the boards by 16 against a bigger Michigan team than this one. The Wolverines couldn’t penetrate the paint at all, taking 36 of their 54 shot attempts from three point range. I’m not expecting that to change in a big way tonight.

SMU has won every game this year, including an impressive road win at Stanford by 15 points. They’ve outrebounded their foes by nearly 12 boards per game. Ben Moore, Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert are a trio of big, beefy low post studs for the Mustangs, capable of dominating inside once again here.

SMU doesn’t commit many turnovers either; not with senior point guard Mic Moore on the floor. Their ball movement has been nothing short of outstanding all year, averaging more than 19 assists while committing only ten turnovers per game. If Michigan isn’t going to win the battle of the boards and they’re not going to force a bunch of turnovers, they’ll be hard pressed to get many (any?) good looks against an SMU defense that has held opponents to 38% shooting from the floor this year.

To make matters even worse for the kids from Ann Arbor, they had a major travel delay on their flight to Dallas. Instead of flying out last night, the plane was grounded due to fog, and they were forced to fly out early this morning. That’s NEVER a positive thing, and those travel issues rarely get noticed by the betting markets or factored into the pointspread.

In fact, money has shown for the underdog Wolverines in this game, driving the pointspread down from an opener of -8 or -8.5 to the current number of -6.5 on the NCAA Basketball Odds board. At that number, the home favorite is a clear ‘take’ for this bettor! Take SMU with your NCAA Basketball Pick tonight.

NCAA Basketball Pick: SMU Mustangs -6.5 (-102) at Pinnacle

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