2014 SMU Mustangs Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 9/29/2014
If there was a team that had a legitimate gripe about the job of the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee last season it was the SMU Mustangs. Larry Brown's team expected to see their name on a line when the bracket was unveiled. It would have been the school's first NCAA Tournament berth in 20 years. It didn't turn out that way. The Mustangs ended up being the No. 1 overall seed in the NIT. SMU made it to the final game in the NIT before being ousted in the closing seconds by Minnesota.
SMU went 23-9 in the regular season last year, but they cost themselves dearly by losing their last three games in a row. There's no doubt that is part of the reason this team was passed on by the committee. One other large reason was the poor strength of schedule for the Mustangs. While I believe SMU probably should have been a part of March Madness, I do understand them being left out.
Even with the disappointment in March, SMU had a highly-successful season a year ago. Remember, this is a program that hasn't had any success in a very long time. SMU hadn't been ranked in the AP Poll in 30 years until last season. Coach Brown and his team showed they are a real contender. They went 15-1 on their home floor, and the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum is turning into a very tough environment for opponents. Coach Brown saw last year as an important building block for the program. Can they keep moving forward and reach the Big Dance this season?
2014 SMU Key Losses and Additions
The Mustangs didn't lose much from last year's team. Nick Russell is the best player from last year's team who won't be back for the 2014-2015 season. Russell led the team in minutes played last year. He averaged 9.9 points per game, but he was an excellent all-around player. Forward Shawn Williams is the only other loss from last year's roster. Williams played 18.4 minutes per game, and he was a decent option off the bench. The biggest loss of all in the offseason for SMU though was Emmanuel Mudiay as he decided to play overseas instead of coming to SMU as originally planned. Mudiay was one of the Top 5-rated high school seniors in the country last year, and he would have instantly made SMU a much more dangerous team. There were increasing questions about whether Mudiay would be immediately eligible or not, and many believe that led him to head overseas.
SMU was relying heavily on Mudiay, but he won't be a part of the team. The Mustangs will get a key newcomer in the form of Xavier transfer Justin Martin, though. Martin has one year of eligibility left, and he'll be able to play right away.
2014 SMU Backcourt
Nic Moore might only be 5-foot-9, but don't let that make you think he isn't capable of leading this team. Moore is the best player on this team, and Coach Brown leans on him as his floor general. Moore was only a sophomore last year, and he led the team in scoring and assists. He also shot 43.6 percent from beyond the three-point line. He's a complete player who makes everyone on the team better. Keith Frazier should start beside Moore. Frazier played last year, but he averaged a little less than 15 minutes per game. His role will increase in a big way this year, and he'll need to bump up his 40.8 percent field goal percentage. Look for sophomore Sterling Brown to be a key part of this backcourt as well.
2014 SMU Frontcourt
Markus Kennedy is the main man in the frontcourt for the Mustangs. The 6-foot-9 forward/center averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 boards per game last year. He has a 6-foot-11 wingspan and is a very physical player in the post. Kennedy is a bit of a throwback player since he does almost all of his damage in the paint. Kennedy's low post moves are tremendous, but he'll need to work on his free throw percentage. Martin will give this team a big boost at the forward spot. He has had tournament experience with Xavier, and he'll help take some pressure off Kennedy. Ben Moore impressed as a freshman last year, too, and his athleticism will help this group.
2014 SMU Mustangs Futures Odds
The oddsmakers are clearly aware of SMU's potential in the year ahead. They are getting a ton of respect prior to the season tipping off. BetOnline lists SMU at +3,000 to win the NCAA Championship. That means they are listed ahead of teams like Syracuse, Ohio State, UCLA, UConn, and Michigan State.
2014 SMU Mustangs Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
Everyone knows Brown can coach, and he'll have an extremely talented team this year. Not getting the freshman sensation Mudiay hurts their upside, but this team is still a Top 25-type team. I don't think the Mustangs will be on the cut line this year when it comes time to select teams for the NCAA Tournament. This team is no longer inexperienced. Look for SMU to play with more consistency than a year ago.
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