Houston Cougars vs. SMU Mustangs Pick – NCAAM January 3, 2021

The Houston Cougars are in Dallas at Southern Methodist University looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since 2016. Not a bad run by the Cougars at all, but the No. 5 team in the nation, as of Sunday afternoon, hopes to parlay it into success in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars reached the Sweet Sixteen in 2019 and made it to the second round in 2018. Getting to the Sweet Sixteen is something to look back on favorably, but a tough 62-58 loss against Kentucky was tough to digest. They were close to pulling off the upset and probably want a few plays back in that game.

Houston has been solid this season, but saw their undefeated run come crashing down on December 29. In a close one, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane edged out the Cougars by a score of 65-64. Tough loss for Houston in a game that was close throughout the first and second half. Tulsa had a 1-point advantage at halftime, and the same by the time the final score was registered. Despite the loss, Houston is still in the driver’s seat with a record of 7-1 and a threat to get back to the Sweet Sixteen again this March. It would make for back-to-back Sweet Sixteen appearances by the Cougars.

The SMU Mustangs can hand Houston rare back-to-back losses with a win at home on Sunday night. The oddsmakers believe this one is going to be tight, and I can’t disagree with them there. If Houston thinks they’re just going to bounce back in Dallas with minimal effort, then they’re going to have something else coming. SMU goes into Sunday with a record of 6-0, and can likely get into the Top 25 with a win over Houston. They haven’t had a test of this magnitude yet, with no ranked wins. The Mustangs are coming off a 79-71 win over Temple on December 30. Head below for our free Houston vs. SMU pick for January 3, 2021.

Houston Cougars vs. SMU Mustangs NCAA Betting Odds:


  • Houston -2.5 (-110)
  • SMU +2.5 (-110)

  • Houston OFF

  • Over 136 (-115)
  • Under 136 (-105)


Houston Cougars vs. SMU Mustangs Prediction:

Houston did what they do best against Tulsa, but not just enough. The Cougars are a lockdown defensive team that can neutralize playmakers on the opposition. Holding Tulsa to 65 points wasn’t enough, as they were edged out by a point. Following their first loss of the season, expect to see the intensity turned up a notch on Sunday. The most points that Houston has allowed this season was 67 against South Carolina on December 5.

That was after their marquee win of the season over Texas Tech, 64-53. Overall, Houston has allowed just 55.9 points per game for fourth in the NCAA. The Mustangs haven’t been bad in their own right defensively, with an average of 64.3 points allowed per contest. In any event, with Houston coming off a loss, look for their defensive intensity to kick up in this matchup. The Mustangs are capable of scoring, but haven’t had to deal with a defense like Houston yet.

We are going to find out how good the SMU offense really is on Sunday. SMU has netted an average of 84.2 points a game for 29th in the NCAA. However, skewing their numbers against teams like Sam Houston State, Houston Baptist, and Texas A&M Community College isn’t all that impressive. Against one of the best defenses in the NCAA, look for SMU to get frustrated in this one. This looks like a 68-63 game, which favors a play on the UNDER in Dallas at Moody Coliseum.


The Bet
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.