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Picks, predictions for SMU vs. Houston on Thursday, January 5

The Cougars are heavy favorites heading into Thursday’s game against SMU.

NCAA Basketball: Central Florida at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 Houston Cougars will play their first game of the new year when they host the SMU Mustangs on Thursday night from Fertitta Center in Houston, Texas. The game will get started at 7:00 p.m. ET and air on ESPN2.

Let’s take a look at the odds and lines on DraftKings Sportsbook and make some picks.

SMU vs. Houston odds

Spread: Houston -20
Over/Under: 130.5
Moneyline: N/A

Houston (14-1, 2-0 AAC) will bring a five-game winning streak into this matchup after its lone loss of the season to the Alabama Crimson Tide last month. But Houston is the top team in the nation overall in the latest KenPom ratings, led by Marcus Sasser who is averaging 15.9 points per game.

SMU (6-8, 1-0 AAC) opened the new year with a 92-67 blowout win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Sunday to start conference play unbeaten. Samuell Williamson and Zach Nutall both scored a team-high 17 points in the victory. The Mustangs are rated 143rd in KenPom and outside the top 100 in adjusted efficiency on both ends of the floor.

The Pick: Houston -20

The Cougars pummel teams when they’re the better side thanks to a suffocating defense. Kelvin Sampson loves putting a beatdown opponents, and Houston won by at least 34 points in seven of its 15 games this season. The Cougars have the second best defense in adjusted efficiency, and the offense is inside the top 15. This is a mismatch, and Houston should cover this number.