Few teams in the country are playing better at the moment than No. 17 SMU as the Mustangs battle Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference regular-season title. SMU could be in some trouble on Saturday, however, at UConn is starting to play to expectations and will be a dangerous out in the AAC Tournament. SMU will be a small favorite Saturday on NCAAB odds.
SMU vs Connecticut Odds, Expert Pick & TV Info
- When: Saturday, Feb. 25, Noon ET
- Where: XL Center, Hartford
- TV: CBS
- Stream: CBSSports.com
- Radio: SMU / Connecticut
- Opening NCAAB Lines: SMU favored by TBA
Why Bet On SMU?
The Mustangs are on a 10-game winning streak entering their final true road game of the season. They have been off since winning at Houston 76-66 last Saturday. Semi Ojeleye had 18 of his 22 points in the second half and SMU rallied. Ojeleye also had nine rebounds, and the Mustangs have won 20 out of 21.
Ben Moore had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Sterling Brown had 16 points and Jarrey Foster added 10 points for SMU (24-4, 14-1 American), which shot 46 percent, including 56 percent in the second half. Houston had opened up a 22-9 lead midway through the first half. SMU has had four or more players score 10+ in 20 of 28 games this season with five in double figures five times.
The Mustangs are 23-11 on the road since the start of the 2014-15 season with a 28-13 mark away from Moody Coliseum (5-2 neutral site). SMU is 19-7 in AAC road games in that stretch (7-2 in 2014-15; 5-4 in 2015-16; 7-1 in 2016-17).
The Mustangs have a season scoring defense of 58.6 (1st AAC, 3rd NCAA). SMU is also among the national leaders with a rebound margin of +11.0 (1st AAC, 2nd NCAA), a field goal defense of .386 (4th AAC, 8th NCAA) and an assist-to- turnover ratio of 1.5 (2nd AAC, 12th NCAA). The Mustangs have outrebounded 25 of 28 opponents and have been at least +10 in 16 games (including 12 of 14 AAC games). Five average 4.0 or more rebounds with Moore (8.2, 4th AAC), Brown (7.1, 11th AAC) and Ojeleye (6.6, 16th AAC) leading SMU. As a team, SMU is first in The American in offensive rebound percentage (.395) and second in defensive rebound percentage (.754).
The only loss in the last 21 contests was at then-No. 22/22 Cincinnati on Jan. 12 (L, 66-64), which SMU avenged the loss vs. then-[11/11] Cincinnati (W, 60-51) on Feb. 12. SMU has held 20 of the last 21 opponents to 66 points or less (56.3 per game – W, 80-75 vs. Tulane on Feb. 15).
Why Bet On UConn?
Since suffering through a two-game losing streak just over three weeks ago, the Huskies have clearly stepped up their game. Over the past nine, they are shooting .474 overall, .486 from three-point range and .757 from the foul line. They are averaging 73.9 ppg, and holding opponents to 64.3 ppg and a field goal percentage of .399, plus outrebounding opponents by 3.7 rebounds per game.
UConn currently has a streak of 272 consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer made, dating back more than seven years. The last game in which the Huskies failed to convert a 3-point shot occurred on Nov. 27, 2009, during a 68-59 loss to Duke in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
The Huskies’ Jaylen Adams was named AAC Player of the Week on Monday, as he averaged 16 points and 5.5 assists per game against Memphis and Temple. He scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half against the Tigers, sparking a comeback victory last Thursday.
In the last four games, three players are averaging double-figures: senior Rodney Purvis (17.3), Adams (16.0) and freshman Christian Vital (11.5). Purvis has scored at least 18 points in three games. UConn senior center Amida Brimah currently has a .647 career field goal percentage, the highest in UConn history. Brimah, who set the single-season school record of .674 in 2014-15, is currently shooting .600 this season.
UConn was routed at SMU 69-49 on Jan. 19. Shake Milton made five 3-pointers and had 23 points and six assists for SMU. The Mustangs closed the first half on a 26-5 spurt — including a 16-0 run — to take a 36-15 lead at intermission. UConn’s last make of the first half was at the 5:35 mark on Vital’s 3-pointer.
The Huskies shot just 34 percent from the floor and turned it over 16 times.
SMU vs Connecticut Expert Pick: UConn Huskies
Huskies look like a different club since the first meeting. They will get some points here – take them.