Despite losing Sunday to a below average Temple squad on Sunday and dropping out of the top 25, the SMU Mustangs should be heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993 barring a late season collapse.
The Mustangs currently sit at 20-6 and are 9-4 in the American Athletic Conference behind Louisville and Cincinnati. Head coach Larry Brown has made the Mustangs into a team in his image and one of the surprise teams in the nation. The Mustangs are undefeated at Moody Coliseum and have been ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in nearly three decades.
Even though Brown is a nomad and has never been one to overstay his welcome, he is enjoying his current stay in Dallas and I'm sure the players enjoy playing for him. Brown has the Mustangs playing at their highest level since the days of Jon Koncak. If they can lock down a tournament berth in the next week they can be a difficult matchup in March.
I'm not predicting any Final Four runs for the Mustangs, but they do possess the firepower to get past the round of 64 and knock off a higher seeded team in the next round and advance to the Sweet 16. With Brown at the helm the Mustangs are definitely a team you don't want to look past. The SMU games I've watched this season, the Mustangs are very capable of catching fire.
The two transfers, guard Nic Moore (Illinois State) and forward Markus Kennedy (Villanova) are what give the Mustangs their horsepower. Despite being 5-9, Moore can get hot and take over a game from the perimeter. Kennedy has stepped up his game in the absence of center Yanick Moreira, who should be coming back by season's end. Freshman forward Ben Moore has been solid and reminds Brown of a young Derrick McKey. Nick Russell and Shawn Williams have also played well. Star freshman Keith Frazier hasn't even played a major role for the team. If Moreira can come back healthy and Frazier can hit his stride this team can be dangerous.
If anyone can get this team to play up to his potential it's Brown. The problem for the Mustangs which reared it's ugly head in their loss to Temple, was their ability to play down to the level of their competition. They have no problem getting ready for the big name games on their schedule, but the tend to struggle with lesser teams.
If the Mustangs can put a string of games together they'll be a handful.