Score Prediction: Houston 73 – SMU 60
NCAAB Pick: SMU +15½ (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)
After No. 1 Alabama fell on Wednesday, No. 2 Houston takes the floor Thursday night as a big favorite on the college basketball odds board at SMU.
If you’re planning on making your bets from the Lone Star State, don’t forget to go over our guide on the best Texas betting sites!
Houston Cougars vs. SMU Mustangs
Thursday, February 16, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Moody Coliseum
Name the only two schools to place top 10 in the AP each week from the preseason to the current rankings. Give yourself a cookie if you said Houston and Kansas.
Now name the only team to rank top 5 each and every week since the 2022-23 campaign got underway. Right again, it’s the Cougars, and Kelvin Sampson’s squad looks to keep that streak intact as big favorites on the NCAAB odds in Thursday’s clash at the SMU Mustangs.
Let’s face it, the pundits overvalued and undervalued a lot of teams in their preseason prognostications, but one team they got right was Houston, and the Cougars arguably have the best balance of offense and defense going in the country right now.
Rivalry Notes & Betting Trends
If this get-together in Dallas is anything like the matchup in Houston six weeks ago, it won’t be all that exciting for the ESPN2 audience. The Cougars shot out to a 20-point lead 7 minutes into the first half and cruised to an 87-53 decision as a 20-point chalk at the sportsbooks.
Southern Methodist upset then-No. 6 a year ago when they met at Moody Coliseum, rallying from 14 down in the second half to pull off an 85-83 triumph as 7½-point underdogs in a game that easily made it past a 134-point total.
- Houston has won the last 2 meetings, and 9 of the last 11 to build a 57-34 advantage in the rivalry
- SMU’s only 2 wins in the last 11 came at home as a small underdog
- 'Over’ bettors have cashed 2 of the last 3 meetings in Dallas
Is This the Best UH Team Ever?
Want to see another list where the Cougars are flying solo as the only team to lay claim to a top 5 position? Check out where Sampson’s squad ranks in offensive and defensive efficiency. Houston is also:
- No. 1 holding opponents to 35.2% from the field
- Top 5 in fewest turnovers
It’s no wonder that this team is being compared to the Houston group known as Phi Slama Jama some 40 years ago, leading us to also acknowledge that just like those 1983 Cougars, shooting free throws is one area the current team is lacking.
Houston ranks 220th nationally in making shots from the charity stripe, and that’s something that college hoops bettors will want to keep in mind when deciding if the Cougars can cover some of the spreads they’ll be asked to cover as the AAC schedule winds down.
Sinking free throws did not affect the Cougars last week against Tulsa. Favored by 28 at home, Houston snuffed the Golden Hurricane in an 80-42 laugher. The Cougars had the spread covered at halftime and dominated Tulsa in every category, all while making 5 of their 6 free throws.
Ponies Off Double Overtime Loss
That January loss in Houston began a stretch for Rob Lanier’s cagers during which they dropped six of seven. The Mustangs have simply not been able to recover from that, currently sitting 9-17 overall on the season and a puny 4-9 in conference play.
They actually played pretty well last week, starting things off with a mild upset at home against Temple. Bookmaker (check out our Bookmaker Review) closed the Owls – who are one of only 2 teams to beat Houston this year – as 2-point favorites, and late free throws helped SMU to the 72-71 victory.
Lanier’s lads almost pulled off a bigger upset Sunday at Wichita State where the Mustangs were getting 6½, but the Shockers ultimately prevailed in double overtime by a 91-89 count. Zhuric Phelps led SMU with 26 points while Efe Odigie added 21 and Samuell Williamson posted a double-double (19-10).
Layoff Could Leave Cougars Rusty
Houston has occupied the top perch in the conventional pools a couple of times already this season, and could return when the new lists are published next Monday after top-ranked Alabama lost on Wednesday.
To do so, the Cougars not only have to beat SMU, they have to do so decisively. The oddsmakers believe they can, with Houston at -15½ for this contest and the total showing up 138-138½ at various outlets.
Houston having not played for eight days concerns me, and that is one reason why I’ll take the points for my first college basketball pick and play the final to come up short of the total.
NCAAB Pick: Under 138½ (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.