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December 18, 2014

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Vegas Play of the Day: Louisville at SMU

The days of constant availability to one of sports betting’s most precious resources, the college basketball home underdog, are dwindling.

It’s worth poaching a couple for our Play of the Day column, which uses odds from the South Point and features three sportswriters with a starting bankroll of $10,000, before it’s too late. UNLV getting three points at the Mack against San Diego State was in consideration for Wednesday, but ultimately there’s an identical underdog on the board with a fiercer bite and stronger defense.

SMU plus-3 vs. Louisville: $330 to win $300

While fading San Diego State is far preferable than Louisville, this line feels out of whack. I expected closer to a pick’em.

It’s almost as if the market hasn’t caught on to how efficient the Mustangs have played all season. SMU is 17-8 against the spread, including 10-1 at Moody Coliseum.

The Mustangs played the Cardinals tough in their first meeting this season, losing 71-63 but easily beating the 13.5-point line. Louisville had a red-letter day from beyond the arc in that meeting, making 10 of 23 three-pointers, which is all but guaranteed not to repeat against SMU’s smothering defense.

The Cardinals are struggling to find their shot at the moment as they’re only making 25 percent of their threes over the last two weeks. The Mustangs have gotten far more competent offensively as the season has progressed and should shoot better than the 36 percent they managed in January at the KFC Yum! Center.

A kneejerk reaction would dictate this situation as beneficial to Louisville, which should bear down with more focus after dropping a game Saturday at Memphis. But SMU should come out intense in its own right after coach Larry Brown chastised the team for what he described as a mediocre showing in a 70-55 win over UCF.

The Mustangs were 14.5-point favorites in the game, meaning in the end they did what they’ve done consistently all season — cover.

Standings: Bern (14-8, $11,240), Keefer (7-9, $8,897), Brewer (5-11-3, $6,360)

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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