AAC College Basketball Handicapping: #23 SMU Mustangs at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

#23 Southern Methodist Mustangs at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Louis Brown Athletic Center – Piscataway, New Jersey

Friday, February 14, 2014, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN3.com
Opening Line: SMU -8
Current Line: SMU -7
Opening Total: 147
Current Total: 145
Opening Money Line: SMU -375 / Rutgers +305
Current Money Line: SMU -325 / Rutgers +270

Rutgers is a 7 point underdog at home against SMU Friday.
Rutgers is a 7 point underdog at home against SMU Friday.

One of the biggest surprises in college basketball this season has been the success of the SMU Mustangs under legendary coach Larry Brown who has won both NBA and NCAA championships. The 19-5 Mustangs are 8-3 in the AAC and tied for third with Memphis behind 10-1 Cincinnati and 8-2 Louisville. SMU cracked the top 25 in the AP poll this week for the first time since 1985. The Mustangs are also looking for their first NCAA tournament berth since 1993.

SMU travels to the 10-14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights Friday in a game that was originally scheduled for Thursday. The game was moved to Friday because of some cold and snowy conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region. Rutgers is 4-7 in the AAC and tied with Houston for sixth.

Rutgers and SMU had never met before becoming conference rivals this season. SMU beat Rutgers 90-76 January 21 in Dallas  in the first ever meeting between the schools.

SMU has losses at Arkansas, Virginia in tournament in Corpus Christi, TX, at Cincinnati, at Louisville, and at South Florida. The Mustangs have won 8 of their last 9 games including 3 straight games. SMU has key wins over TCU, Rhode Island,  Texas A&M in Corpus Christi, at Wyoming, UConn, South Florida, at Central Florida, Hofstra, Rutgers, at Houston, Memphis, Temple, and Saturday against Cincinnati 76-55. It was the first conference loss for the Bearcats. SMU is 14-6 ATS and the total is 8-11 this season.

SMU is outscoring teams 73-61 this season. The Mustangs are #17 in points allowed nationally. SMU is shooting 49.6% from the field and 36.4% from 3 point range. The Mustangs are #8 nationally in field goal percentage. SMU makes 68.3% of their free throws. Mustang opponents are shooting 36.7% from the field and 30.8% from 3 point range. SMU is #2 in field goal defense and #38 in three point defense nationally. The Mustangs average 37.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.6. SMU averages 15.5 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 7.6 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.8 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Guard Nic Moore averages 13.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward Markus Kennedy averages 11.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game. Guard Nick Russell averages 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Center Yanick Moreira averages 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Forward Ben Moore averages 7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Keith Frazier, Shawn Williams, Cannen Cunningham, Ryan Manuel, and  Sterling Brown also get significant time in the rotation.

Rutgers is coached by Eddie Jordan. The Scarlet Knights have losses at UAB, Drexel, William & Mary,  Fairleigh-Dickinson, at George Washington, Seton Hall, Princeton, Louisville, at Cincinnati, at Houston, at SMU, UConn, at Temple, and at Memphis. Rutgers has key wins over Yale, Canisius, UNC-Greesboro, Army, Temple, UCF, Houston, and Saturday at South Florida 79-69.  Rutgers is 9-12 ATS and the total is 13-8 this season.

Rutgers is being outscored 76-75 this season. The Scarlet Knights are #312 out of 351 teams nationally in points allowed. Rutgers is shooting 43.9% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Scarlet Knights make 68.3% of their free throws. Rutgers opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. The Scarlet Knights average 36.1 rebounds per game and give up 32.9. Rutgers averages 13 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 13.3 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.9 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.

Guard Myles Mack averages 15.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Forward Kadeem jack averages 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Forward J.J. Moore averages 11.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1 steal per game. Guard Jerome Seagers averages 9.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Forward Wally Judge averages 7.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. D’Von Campbell, Junior Etou, Craig Brown, and Malick Kone will also get minutes in the rotation.

SMU is 10-1 ATS overall, 9-1 in AAC games, 5-1 against teams with losing records, and against teams with winning home records, and 3-7 in Friday games.

Rutgers is 5-1 ATS at home, 7-3 against teams with losing road records, 2-5 overall and in AAC games.

After an emotional win over Cincinnati last week, SMU can’t afford a letdown on the road at not very good Rutgers team. If the young Mustangs are truly a contender, then they will take care of business in this two game road trip to Rutgers and Temple who both have losing records. I think SMU wins but Rutgers keeps it within the number.

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