As SMU & UCLA meet in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon, we apply our handicapping methods to forecast whether odds-favored Mustangs will defeat the Bruins.
South Regional Intrigue with UCLA versus SMU
The #6 seed SMU Mustangs (27-6) will take on the #11 seed UCLA Bruins (20-13) on Thursday at 3:10 PM ET. This is a second round game in the South Regional being played at Louisville, Kentucky. According to the NCAA Tournament odds, SMU is a 3.5 point favorite, and the posted total is 133.5.
A Controversial Selection
The UCLA Bruins were a controversial selection pertaining to being part of the NCAA Tournament field. Not only were they chosen, but they weren’t even considered to be one the final four to receive an at-large-bid. By not being one of the last four selected, UCLA was able to avoid playing a game in Dayton, Ohio on either Tuesday or Wednesday. The supporters of the Bruins will tell you that their team went 12-6 in the last eighteen games. The pundits will counter by saying they lost five in a row prior to that recent modest winning run. Either way, the argument will be settled when the result of this game goes final.
Beware of the Mustangs
This is an SMU team that’s more than capable of holding their own in this tournament. They’re extremely efficient offensively, stingy defensively, and are one of the more fundamentally sound teams in the country. Then there’s the Mustangs veteran head coach Larry Brown. All Brown is accomplished is winning a national championship as head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks, and ironically enough, he reached the NCAA title game as the head man at UCLA. SMU can also use being snubbed by the NCAA Tournament committee last season as an extra motivational tool. There’s a lot to like about SMU heading into the “Big Dance”, and if you read my preview article on the South Regional, they were one my potential sleepers.
It would be contradictory for me not to lay this small of a number with SMU since I like them as a dark horse in this region. Besides, I wasn’t an advocate of UCLA being invited to “The Big Dance”. I thought Colorado State would’ve been a more deserving selection, and possibly even Temple.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Play on SMU -3.5 at Pinnacle Sports