Iona vs. SMU Odds, Expert Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Thursday, Dec 22)
Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: Iona head coach Rick Pitino.
- Iona and SMU tip off the Diamond Head Classic from Hawaii.
- The Mustangs have been a massive disappointment this season and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
- Can the Mustangs cover against Rick Pitino and the Gaels? Brett Pund provides that answer and more below.
Iona vs. SMU Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Tipping off the action at the Diamond Head Classic, SMU battles Iona on Thursday afternoon at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Mustangs have struggled this season, holding a 3-7 record and losing five of their last six. Meanwhile, the Gaels are off to a strong start to the campaign, winning five of their last six to sit at 7-3.
The winner will play either Utah State or Seattle in the next round of the tournament. So, this is a great opportunity to win a trophy and boost their resumes before conference play.
This is the third season for legendary head coach Rick Pitino at Iona after guiding the school to postseason play in the first two years.
The calling card for Pitino’s team has been playing tough defense.
Through the opening 10 games, the Gaels rank inside the top 70 in multiple defensive categories, according to BartTorvik, including adjusted efficiency (51st), effective field goal percentage (64th) and turnover percentage (29th).
However, they haven’t been as stout away from home. In games on the road or neutral sites, opponents are averaging 70 points per game, which includes allowing over 80 points to Hofstra, Santa Clara and New Mexico.
On the offensive end of the floor, guards Daniss Jenkins and Walter Clayton Jr. both average over 16 points and 3.5 assists per game. Nelly Junior Joseph is the other Iona player averaging double-figures with 13.5 PPG.
Things have not gone to plan in head coach Rob Lanier’s first season in Dallas, with the team picking up wins over only Lamar, Evansville and Texas A&M-Commerce.
The main struggles have come on offense, with the Mustangs ranking outside the top 300 in effective field goal percentage, 2-point percentage and 3-point percentage.
Lanier’s squad has played decent defense, but it isn’t easy for a team to make up for its deficiencies on the other end of the floor simply by limiting the opponent’s offense.
One player Lanier has been able to count on is sophomore guard Zhuric Phelps, who leads the team and ranks 32nd nationally with 19.5 PPG.
Zach Nutall also averages 13.3 PPG, but the Mustangs desperately need to find additional scorers to become more competitive in conference play.
Iona vs. SMU Betting Pick
There’s only one side to can play in this game, but I’m just hoping we get a number that’s not too inflated to fade this poor SMU team.
With that said, my best bet is to back Iona at -8.5, which I would be up to -10.
When the Mustangs have stepped up in class, they have not been very competitive in most of those contests.
In matchups against teams that rank inside the KenPom top 100, SMU has lost all five games by an average of 15.6 PPG, with all but one coming by double digits.
This is the same squad that’s 0-6 in all contests against Quad 1, 2 and 3 opponents on the year.
I mentioned above how Pitino’s defense hasn’t traveled as well away from home this season, but this is a more difficult traveling spot for SMU. This will be only the second time that the Mustangs have left the state of Texas.
In the only other game, Lanier’s squad was held to 62 points at Dayton in the second game of the season. There are a lot of similarities between how the Flyers and Gaels like to play, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Once you add in the coaching mismatch, all signs point to this being a dominant win by Iona to tip off this nonconference tournament.