Larry Brown is the only coach in basketball to have won championships in college, the NBA and the ABA, and the 73-year-old mastermind has brought instant credibility to SMU’s basketball program. In fact, Brown has quietly developed SMU into one of the best teams in the nation as the Mustangs’ are 23-6 SU and 17-8 ATS this season, including impressive wins over Connecticut (twice), Memphis and Cincinnati. Let’s also note that coach Brown’s teams are a remarkable 117-18 (.867) at home, including 22-7 (.759) at SMU.
On Wednesday, SMU welcomes Louisville to another sold out Moody Coliseum (seventh of the season; school record), and the Mustangs are eager to avenge an eight-point loss to the Cardinals on January 12. Interestingly, Louisville’s visit to the Metroplex marks SMU’s first home game between two ranked opponents since the ninth-ranked Mustangs defeated No. 19 Louisville on February 16, 1985. “I want people to dread coming in here,” coach Brown said. “We’re not going to be able to hang with Louisville unless we have a better crowd than we had with Cincinnati, and I didn’t think that was possible. But we’ll see.” With SMU honoring both Nick Russell and Shawn Williams on Senior Night, I expect a lively crowd for what is being described as the biggest home game in school history.
SMU’s strength is its defense that is allowing a mere 61.2 points per game to teams that would combine to average 70.0 points per game, thereby making the Mustangs 8.8 points per game better than average defensively. More importantly, SMU is a perfect 15-0 SU and 10-1 ATS at home this season where the Mustangs are limiting opponents to just 57.2 points per game on 34.5% shooting from the field and 26.5% from beyond the arc. SMU second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense, while also being ranked 17th in points allowed. The Mustangs have held 28 of its last 38 opponents to under 40% shooting (22 of 29 this year). SMU has also outrebounded 22 of its 29 opponents this season and is ranked 28th in the nation (1st in the conference) in rebounding margin at +5.4. Crashing the boards has resulted in SMU outscoring 25 of 29 of its opponents in the paint this season by an average of 34.5 to 21.2 points per game.
SMU is averaging 76.8 points per game at home this season on 52.9% shooting from the floor and 37.8% from three-point territory. The Mustangs are leading the conference in field goal percentage and are ranked 9th nationally (49.2%). While Nic Moore (14.1) and Markus Kennedy (11.9) lead the team in scoring, eight Mustangs are averaging at least 5.0 points per game. Overall, SMU is 3.2 points per game better than average offensively (72.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.9 points per game), but the Mustangs are far more efficient offensively within the friendly confines of Moody Coliseum. In fact, the Mustangs boast an average scoring margin of +19.6 at home this season, which is certainly good enough to compete against Louisville.
SMU is 11-3 ATS versus teams with a winning record this season, including a perfect 7-0 ATS against elite opposition that are outscoring their opponents by eight or more points per game. The Mustangs are also 12-4 ATS versus conference opponents, 10-2 ATS following a home game, 6-0 ATS after covering the spread, 13-5 ATS off a win, 6-0 ATS with revenge, 10-1 ATS at home and 9-1 ATS after being installed as a home favorite. Meanwhile, the betting public’s knee-jerk reaction is to expect Louisville to bounce back from its 72-66 upset loss at Memphis Saturday, but that assumption is baseless in that the Cardinals are 0-6 ATS off an upset loss to a conference opponent and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games following a loss. With SMU standing at 8-2 ATS off a double-digit home win, take the Mustangs and invest with confidence.