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On Wednesday night, the Tulane Green Wave will travel to Dallas to face the SMU Mustangs. Both teams enter with similar records but have won in different ways this season.
The Green Wave has one of the most high-powered offenses in the American Athletic Conference. On the other hand, the Mustangs have won with lockdown defense, and this should be on full display at home.
Despite the contrasting styles, these programs are evenly matched with their records. All 14 teams in the American make the conference tournament, and both programs will be looking to improve their seeding with a win.
Here, we will break down the entire matchup and give our best bets for Tulane vs. SMU.
SMU is favored by 9.5 points, and a big reason for this is their elite defense. The team has been fantastic in the backcourt and should swarm Tulane’s offense. The Green Wave still have offensive playmakers, but based on the odds, they shouldn’t have a lot of success on Thursday.
|Tulane Green Wave
|Over 157.5 (-110)
|Under 157.5 (-110)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Head over to FanDuel to place your bets and qualify for $200 in bonus bets!
Tulane has been a tale of two phases this season. They’re much better on offense than defense, and it’s evident in the KenPom rankings.
The Green Wave is 116th overall in the adjusted efficiency metric, but they’re not balanced. Tulane is 70th in offensive rating but 205th in defense. They have been very lazy on defense, and they tend to fold when they go down in a game.
The 9.5-point spread margin may seem vast, but if Tulane doesn’t come out swinging, they will have a tough time overcoming a deficit. The player to watch for the Green Wave is Kevin Cross.
Cross, a 6’8” senior forward, has been tremendous in 2023-24. He is scoring 17.5 points per game while shooting 54% from the field. Cross is one of many scorers throughout the roster.
Jaylen Forbes is second on the team in scoring with 15 points per game. He has also been efficient from the field, but on nights where shots aren’t falling, the entire team struggles to get rebounds.
They’re 283rd in America in rebounds per game. Cross puts up substantial numbers on the glass, but he has little to no help. The team also allows the 335th most points in the country and is 205th in opponent field goal percentage.
SMU is 43rd in the KenPom ranking. Their offense hasn’t been as good as Tulane at 75th, but they’re 25th in adjusted defensive efficiency. This will be the area of the game where the Mustangs enforce their will.
SMU is 35th in the country in rebounds per game, and they have been prominent on the offensive glass. Their second chance points are how many hot streaks have started during games.
Zurich Phelps is scoring 14.6 points per game, but he hasn’t been very efficient, with just a 40% shooting rate. However, his teammates Samuell Williamson and Tyreek Smith have been so strong in the paint that the team has still found ways to find offensive success.
The defense and overall grit make us believe SMU will have success in this game. Yet, the point margin is a lot in a conference game.
The 9.5-point spread margin is relatively surprising. There is a route for SMU to cover in this game, and it all begins with a fast start. Their defense is good enough to limit Tulane if they can make shots.
The Green Wave don’t play defense, and they don’t show a lot of effort in the paint. Yet, when they get hot from the field, they have one of the most complete offenses in the American Athletic Conference.
Cross must have a big game, leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists. We like him to come up big and help Tulane keep this game close. Take the generous 9.5-point spread with Tulane in this contest.
Tulane vs. SMU Pick: Tulane +9.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
When: Thursday, Feb. 1 @ 7:00 PM ET
Where: Moody Coliseum, Dallas, TX
Streaming: ESPN App
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Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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