SMU vs. South Florida: Poor Shooting Makes 'Under' Our NCAA Basketball Pick

Mark Lathrop

Sunday, February 7, 2016 2:02 PM GMT

Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 2:02 PM GMT

SMU can't play in the NCAA tournament this year, but that doesn't mean they can't hold some value to bettors. Our NCAAB handicapper analyzes this game for his NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 137
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

SMU vs. South Florida
In a matchup of the best record in the AAC and the worst, the Southern Methodist Mustangs (19-2, 8-2) visit the South Florida Bulls (5-19, 2-9) in a game that will be a nice distraction from the endless pregame festivities of the Super Bowl. With the line on this game, a distraction is all that Southern Methodist thinks of South Florida as well. The Mustangs have been placed as 16-point favorites across the board in this game, while the early O/U total has opened at 137 on the NCAA Basketball Odds board.

With a 16-point spread, it should be noted that the South Florida Bulls have lost 19 games in a row to ranked teams with an average loss by 18.6 points. Ouch.

The first time these two teams met this year, SMU was missing one of its top players, junior guard Keith Frazier. He was absent on short notice handling a family matter, but the Mustang’s seven-man rotation was more than enough to handle the Bulls. Four players logged more than 30 minutes each in the game that saw the Mustangs win 72-58 as huge 25.5-point favorites at home. That allowed the Bulls to cover the spread handily, which would be the 5th time they have covered the spread in their last seven meetings

South Florida is riding a youth movement in an attempt to improve their prospects for future seasons. Their leading scorer is a true freshman, guard Jahmal McMurray, who is leading the team with 15 points per game and averages 35.4 minutes per game. Those fifteen points have come on some poor shooting though, as McMurray is shooting 39.7% from the field and 33.6% form three-point range. That three-point percentage wouldn’t be such a big deal if he didn’t take a bunch of shots beyond the arc, but he does, and has gone 2-12 over his last two games.

South Florida is coming off of an 88-57 loss at Cincinnati (17-7, 6-4) as they allowed six Cincinnati players to score in double digits. Senior center, Jaleel Cousins, was able to pull in ten rebounds for a double-double in the matchup though before fouling out in 19 minutes of playing time.   

While SMU can’t participate in the NCAA tournament this year, their 10th RPI ranking has us believing that they could have made some noise. Their two losses on the year have come within the last two games after racing out to an 18-0 start. In their last game, the Mustangs lost 71-48 to Houston on the road, as they got outrebounded 35-23 on the glass. Leading scorer, Nic Moore, added 16 points for the Mustangs, but was outshone by Devonta Pollard of Houston who pitched in 23 points on 7-13 shooting from the field. SMU allowed Houston to shoot 46.4% from the field, overall.

 

Final Analysis
With Southern Methodist going 13-3 SU in their last 16 games on the road, and South Florida 2-11 SU overall and 0-5 SU in their last five games at home, anyone can see why the line is as big as it is. But this game shouldn’t be as “close” as the last matchup, as Larry Brown and SMU won’t be dealing with a short notice loss of a player in their rotation. Still, you have to think that the fact that SMU really has nothing to play for may start weighing down on player motivation as the season starts to wind down. That’s why I can’t back SMU at -16 here, but I do think that South Florida’s poor shooting gives us some value on the Under. If SMU gets up big they will start running clock as well, so I am taking under 137 in this game at BookMaker as one of my NCAA Basketball Pick

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