SMU vs. Hawaii Odds, Picks | College Basketball Betting Guide (Sunday, Dec. 25)
Via Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Kamaka Hepa #44 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors takes a jump shot over DJ Rodman #11 of the Washington State Cougars during the second half of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic game at SimpliFi Arena on December 23, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
SMU vs. Hawaii Odds
The Diamond Head Classic concludes on Christmas night in what will be an electric matchup between two teams that have impressed in their first two games of the tournament.
The SMU Mustangs have played their best basketball of the season, pulling off back-to-back upsets of Iona and Utah State. In their first two contests, SMU racked up a combined 16 made 3s, resulting in 85 and 77-point performances.
On the other side, Hawaii defeated Pepperdine as a short favorite and Washington State as a short underdog. The Rainbow Warriors have been led by a unique duo of point guard JoVon McClanahan and big man Kamaka Hepa, a transfer from Texas.
For the Rainbow Warriors to take home the Diamond Head Classic championship on their home-floor, they will need to put an emphasis on the defensive end against a Mustangs team that has been lighting it up on the island.
SMU has played its best basketball of the season in Hawaii, mostly due to impressive offensive performances.
Coming into the Diamond Head Classic, the Mustangs had struggled offensively, ranking 296th nationally in 3P% (30.6%) and 263rd in 2P% (47.3%). These poor shooting numbers resulted in an SMU offense that ranks 287th in Effective FG% at just 46.9%.
The Mustangs have reached Sunday’s championship by turning these shooting numbers around completely. In the first game with Iona, SMU shot 41% from 2-point range and added 13 3s to shock the Gaels.
Then, SMU continued this shooting progression against Utah State, making 52.1% of its shots from 2-point range and recording four 3-pointers.
Although they have been successful, the Mustangs will face their toughest defensive challenge against the Rainbow Warriors.
The Warriors possess one of the most effective defenses in the country, holding teams to just a 43.5% effective FG% (16th nationally). Hawaii is effective defensively both inside and outside, ranking inside the top 50 in both 2P% and 3P% allowed.
The Mustangs won’t be able to rely on their improved outside shooting to ignite their offense against a Warriors team that allows the eighth-fewest 3-point attempts in the country.
Expect some shooting regression when SMU takes on Hawaii on Sunday.
In my breakdown of Hawaii’s opening matchup with Pepperdine, I mentioned that Hawaii would be extremely motivated to win the Diamond Head Classic being held in its home gym. This is the 13th time this tournament has been played but only the first time Hawaii has won each of its first two games to reach the championship.
The Warriors have certainly showed this motivation, covering the spread in both of their opening matchups. As stated above, the Warriors have reached the championship through impressive defensive performances.
Additionally, Hawaii has shown a methodical approach on offense, shooting just above 50% from the floor through their first two games. Hawaii will have every opportunity to build upon these offensive numbers against an SMU team that ranks outside the top 200 in 3-point shooting percentage allowed.
Even if the Warriors experience some shooting regression, they will supplement this with an advantage on the boards. Hawaii is one of the best teams in the country at creating second chances, with an offensive rebound percentage of 33.5% (56th nationally). This has been a weakness for SMU all season, allowing teams to have multiple opportunities on 29.8% of their defensive possessions.
If the Warriors combine their defensive advantage with extra offensive possessions, they will have success in this championship matchup.
SMU vs. Hawaii Betting Pick
In Sunday’s championship, Hawaii will use its fundamental defense and advantage on the boards to return SMU’s offense to the mean.
Combine this with a Hawaii team that has shown its desire to win the Diamond Head Classic on its home-floor, and I will gladly side with the Warriors.
Although SMU has played its best basketball of the season on the island, Hawaii’s defense will be a step up from the Mustangs’ first two games.