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Odds & Pick for SMU vs. Houston College Basketball: How to Back the Cougars’ Stellar Defense

Odds & Pick for SMU vs. Houston College Basketball: How to Back the Cougars’ Stellar Defense article feature image

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Kelvin Sampson.

  • No. 6 Houston looks to continue its dominance in the AAC against SMU on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Cougars are one of the best defensive teams in the country, which points Tanner McGrath toward where he sees value.
  • McGrath lays out how he's betting this game, with his focus on the total.

SMU vs. Houston Odds

SMU Odds +10.5
Houston Odds -10.5
Moneyline +460 / -620
Over/Under 139.5
Time | TV 1 p.m. ET | ESPN
Odds as of Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET and via FanDuel, where you can get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet.

We’re all sad that NFL football is no longer here. However, now we can shift our full focus to the college basketball season.

This Sunday, instead of watching RedZone or our favorite football team get blown out, we’ll be watching this American Athletic Conference (AAC) matchup between the SMU Mustangs and the Houston Cougars.

Houston is sitting in first place in the AAC and is clearly the class of the conference. In fact, at this moment, head coach Kevin Sampson’s Cougars might be the only AAC team that will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

At 9-3 overall and 5-3 in conference play, SMU is having a pretty decent season. A statement win today would improve the Mustangs’ tournament resume immensely.

But with Houston’s dominant play, a SMU win seems almost impossible.

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The Matchup: SMU’s Offense vs. Houston’s Defense

SMU wins through its offensive attack.

The Mustangs are second in the conference in offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and first in the conference in 2-point shooting percentage (52.7%). SMU boasts a top-50 offense via points per game, effective field goal percentage and overall offensive efficiency.

Overall, the over has hit in eight of SMU’s 12 games this season.

Guard Kendric Davis is the undisputed leader of the SMU offense. Standing just 5-foot-11 at 180 pounds, Davis is averaging 17.3 points and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 47.1% from the field.

However, Davis has scored just 14 combined points in his last two games, so his productivity will be something to watch for, especially since SMU will be playing one of the best defenses in the country.

Houston is first in the country in points per game allowed at a mind-boggling 56.5. It’s also second in the country in effective field goal percentage against, and opponents are shooting just 36.4% from the field against them this season.

The Cougars’ rotation is unique. Sampson has four guys in his starting five that stand over 6-foot-5, but not a single player on the roster stands taller than 6-foot-8.

But it works. The team is long, athletic and hits the boards hard. Houston actually leads the entire country in offensive rebounds per game, with 14.3.

SMU’s offense has been good, but there isn’t a team in the country that can score efficiently on Houston’s defense.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

I have two big questions coming into this game.

First: Is SMU’s defense underrated?

While it’s been terrible defending the 3-ball, SMU is top-20 in the nation in 2-point percentage against (43.9%) and in just conference play is second in the AAC (43.4%). It also doesn’t get into foul trouble and blocks a lot of shots.

Second: Is Houston’s offense overrated?

Houston is first in the AAC in offensive efficiency, but its shooting splits aren’t excellent. The Cougars are shooting just 47% from 2-point range on the season, which is fifth in the AAC and 255th in the country.

Earlier this season, Houston beat SMU in Dallas by 14 as two-point favorites. The final score was 74-60 and went under the total.

With Houston’s overrated offense, SMU’s underrated defense and Houston’s dominant defense, this game is going to go Under too.

At the time of this writing, the total opened at 139.5, which would be the highest total for a Houston game since they played Boise State on Nov. 27.

I’ll play Houston unders until the Cougars come home. I love this play and would bet it all the way down to 137.5.

Pick: Under 137.5 or Better

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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