Match-Up: #7 SMU Mustangs vs. #10 Virginia Tech Hokies
SMU is a damn good basketball team in pretty mediocre American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs are the favorite to win the AAC Conference Tournament, and will play in the Semifinals on Saturday afternoon against Central Florida.
After capturing the regular season crown with a 28-4 overall record and a 17-1 record in the AAC, the Mustangs will roar into March with a very, very good team.
Any Hokies basketball fans remember Ben Emelogu? He played one season at Virginia Tech before transferring to SMU at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. He’s in his third year at SMU, but retains junior status due to taking a medical redshirt last season. He is averaging 21 minutes per game, but only scores 4.5 points on 35% shooting.
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The real story with the nation’s 12th-ranked team is the scoring at the top. Like the other potential tournament opponents mentioned, SMU does not have a bunch of giants in the frontcourt. Despite this, they do have plenty of capable players in the paint that can present the Hokies with some challenges.
The Mustangs’ leading scorer is 6’7″ junior forward Semi Ojeleye. The former Duke Blue Devil averages 19.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season, and is a major factor on both ends of the floor. On the perimeter, sophomore guard Shake Milton has stolen the show. The 6’6″ Owasso, Oklahoma native averages 13.1 points and 4.5 assists per game. He is also an above average rebounder for a guard, using his size to snag 4.1 rebounds per game, and is an assassin from beyond-the-arc, shooting 43% from deep.
SMU averages around 75 points per game as a team and can get up-and-down the court with their athleticism as well as any team in the country. They are one of the sleeper teams to watch in the entire field for the tournament, and may be the toughest draw out of the three teams presented in these brackets.