SMU vs. Oregon Betting Odds
Dana Altman lost six of his nine top players including his top three scorers from last season. Altman’s Ducks lost two of those players to the NBA.
No worries. Altman flipped his roster over, reloaded, and is ranked #13 entering this season.
As Jon Rothstein says:
His name is Dana Altman.
And he aligns Rubik's Cubes.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 22, 2021
The Ducks season started with a 17-point victory over Texas Southern. Although they couldn’t manage to cover the 21-point spread, the game was over from the tip. Oregon sprinted out to a 16-8 lead in the first 10 minutes and never looked back.
SMU started the season in a similar fashion, with a 26-point win over McNeese State. The Mustangs also couldn’t cover the 28.5-point spread, but they lead considerably wire-to-wire.
Like Oregon, the Mustangs lost a big portion of their roster. However, SMU also brings back three starters and three reserves from last season, and they added to their core considerably.
But can SMU compete with Altman and Co. in this big non-conference matchup?
SMU Mustangs Odds
For the Mustangs, everything centers around 5-foot-11 point guard Kendric Davis. Davis averaged 7.6 assists per game last season while leading the nation in assist rate (.464). In 43 starts with SMU, he’s recorded at least five assists in 34 of them, including an AAC-record 14 against Cincinnati last season.
Not only is Davis an incredible floor general, but he’s an efficient one. His 3.2 assist-to-turnover ratio was top-10 in the country last season, and he added 19 points per game on 48%/37% splits.
So, as the roster around Davis changes wildly, coach Tim Jankovich can take solace in having Davis running the offense.
While two other starters and three reserve players also return, I’m most excited to watch two transfers.
Former Baylor star Tristan Clark is back after retiring from basketball due to a knee injury. He averaged over 14 points and six rebounds in 2018-19 before the injury with Baylor, shooting over 75% from the field. If he could return to his former glory, he’ll be a very interesting storyline.
Also, Sam Houstan State transfer Zach Nutall. Nutall won Southland Conference Player of the Year honors on the back of 19.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last year. Last season, he dropped 36 on SMU in the season-opener, and over 20 on both LSU and Texas. This guy can flat-out score.
My hope is that SMU repeats their defensive success from last season. Opponents shot just 43.9% from 2-point range against SMU last year, which ranked top-10 in the nation.
Oregon Ducks Odds
I’m high on Oregon for this upcoming season.
Losing Chris Duarte and Eugene Omoruyi hurts. But you can’t get a better replacement for those two than Jacob Young and Quincy Guerrier.
Young comes from Rutgers, where his 14 points and 1.7 steals per game helped Steve Pikiell nab the Scarlet Knights’ first NCAA Tournament berth since 1991. He was the primary ball-handler (27% possession) and shot taker (26.2% shots) but did it with efficiency, finishing ninth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage.
Guerrier comes from Syracuse, where he was third-team ACC last season. He’s a monstrous interior presence that shot over 55% from inside the arc, recorded 12 rebounds per game, and blocked over 4% of his opponent’s shots when he was on the floor.
Syracuse didn’t post-up too often (3.5% of the time), but Guerrier got most of those offensive sets (61%) and was wildly efficient doing so (1.191 points per possession, 97th percentile).
Those two will replace a large majority of the inside-outside combination that Oregon lost with Duarte and Omoruyi. However, maybe not right away.
Look for Eric Williams Jr. to play a big part in the offense, especially early-season. He averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game last season while recording a 7.3% offensive rebounding rate (impressive for a 6-foot-6 small forward).
While he might not start, De’vion Harmon will play a massive role as a bench guard. He played great last season with Oklahoma, especially on the defensive end, and will be the leader of the Ducks’ second unit.
Prediction and Pick
My pick: Oregon -6.5 (-115 at FanDuel)
Oregon will take care of the ball, beat teams with spacing, and chuck it from 3. Altman’s team finished second in 3-point shooting two seasons ago (39.6%) and 17th last season (37.7%).
Meanwhile, SMU may have played solid interior defense, but they’re weak on the perimeter. They’re smaller than most teams, with four of their five starters standing under 6-foot-5, and Davis is a particularly weak link.
SMU finished 247th in the country in 3-point defense last season, allowing opponents to shoot 35.2% from deep.
That’s where Oregon is going to take over this game, and where the Ducks have the biggest mismatch.
Normally, I would prefer a mid-major team with more experience, but Altman has been aligning Rubik’s Cubes for so long, it renders experience moot. Give me the Ducks at -6.5 and I think they win by double-digits (would play up to -9.5).