SMU vs. North Texas Expert Pick and Prediction – January 25, 2024
SMU VS. NORTH TEXAS EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – January 25, 2024 — It’s a shame that we’re only going to get one year of SMU-North Texas as a rivalry. This really could have become a strong rivalry, given the 40 miles between the schools and how both have committed to basketball in recent years. But SMU’s off to the ACC next year, so this is all we get.
And this should be a fine chess match between two defense-heavy schools. If you’ve never seen a North Texas game, prepare yourself for a true rock fight. The Mean Green love to walk the ball up and force teams into a quagmire. No team plays slower than North Texas, which even forced Rick Pitino’s St. John’s squad into a 53-52 battle of the bricks in November.
SMU’s not as slow-paced, but the Mustangs play excellent defense. SMU boasts the third-best opposing field goal percentage in the nation, and nobody holds teams to a lower shooting percentage from behind the arc. Anything you get against this defense, you earn, which is why only two teams — Texas A&M and Arizona State, both of whom rely on getting a bunch of free throw chances — have broken 70 points against the Mustangs.
UNT doesn’t have a nose for the stripe, and most of its possessions end in shots. Unless they can win the battle of the boards, the Mean Green will have to take on SMU by playing its game, which should make for an interesting battle.
(13-5 SU, 11-4-2 ATS)
(12-5 SU, 9-6 ATS)
When: Thursday, January 25 at 7 p.m. EST
Where: The Super Pit, Denton, Texas
Public Bets: 53% on SMU
Public Money: 60% on SMU
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of January 24th, 2024.
SMU vs. North Texas In-Season Trends
If you’ve been betting on SMU since November, you’ve made yourself a lot of money. The Mustangs have been betting gold on the spread since a two-point home loss to Dayton, going 9-0-1 ATS in that stretch. SMU’s defense has been very consistent in that stretch; eight of its past 10 opponents have been held to 65 or less.
North Texas hasn’t been able to see totals low enough to scare off under bettors. Last week on the Godzilla Wins show, Jack couldn’t contain his laughter at how low the total was when I mentioned the 119.5 total between the Mean Green and Charlotte and suggested playing the under anyway. It worked: the teams went under by 19 points. Over the past six games, the under has cashed five times and the total score has never topped 136.
Zhuric Phelps’ inconsistency has popped up again in conference play, and it’s made SMU a harder team to solve. Out of the Mustangs’ five defeats, four of them have come when Phelps has shot under 50% from the floor. It didn’t hurt the Mustangs against Temple or Charlotte, but it did cost them a win against Memphis.
Related: Angell’s Sports Analysis for Jan. 25
As important as Jason Edwards’ scoring is to North Texas, this game might have more to do with Robert Allen’s rebounding. One of the few ways for offenses to attack SMU is by grabbing the rebound and stuffing it home, as the Mustangs are rather weak at stopping second-chance points. Allen has to make himself a presence in the paint.
Don’t look for a lot of points in this slow-paced contest. SMU is likely going to be happy to let its defense run the day and make North Texas find a way to get decent looks. With UNT not willing to push the tempo at all, this could be a game where first team to 50 wins.
The Mustangs have better shooters, and the Mean Green’s defense isn’t quite up to SMU’s level. It’s not likely to be a high-scoring game, but it’s likely to go the way of the visitors.