Pick – Analysis
Kansas had a slight chance of getting a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, but those hopes were dashed after Monday’s loss to Kansas State. The committee usually boosts teams playing in top conferences, but KU already has Four Conference losses. The Longhorns are on the bubble, but because they play in the Big 12, are on the inside of that bubble.
The Jayhawks usually don’t get challenged at home and this Game probably won’t be any different, especially since they are coming off a loss. Kansas won in the first meeting 75-62, after outscoring Texas by 10 points over the final seven minutes. The questions to ask here is how much can Kansas win by? What Texas team will show up?
The Longhorns have not been a great team on the road this season, that much is for certain. Their lone road wins are against the conferences worst teams and Kansas is not one of them. And with their next Game being against Baylor, Texas could be in some trouble with 13 losses. The Longhorns, despite playing in what many consider the best conference, are not a shoe-in for the big Tournament. Their only relevant Conference win was against West Virginia back in mid-January.
Texas is battling, though, and that’s what matters when betting the spread. The Longhorns had a chance to top Oklahoma last week, but ended up losing by two points. This is a team that has the size to fight with anyone, as we saw when they battled Kentucky earlier in the season. However, the Longhorns just haven’t been able to put things together in a stretch of Conference play. They have the tools to give Kansas problems, but probably not enough to give Kansas a final blow in LAwrence.
In the first meeting, Kansas broke open the Game with bench help from Cliff Alexander and Brannen Greene, who combined for 29 points. Alexander has been a ghost in recent Games, scoring only six points in the last Four. Everything else about that Game was fairly even as Texas only got eight points from its bench. It wouldn’t be surprising to see guys like Perry Ellis struggle again vs. the bigs of Texas, but that isn’t going to stop Frank Mason or Wayne Selden or Kelly OUbre from putting in work. The Longhorns can be beat on the perimeter, which is exactly what Iowa State did to them over the weekend, scoring 85 points in the process, despite getting outrebounded by 11.
Johnathan Holmes has really struggled for Texas in his senior season which is really surprising after the jump he made last year. Someone like him will need to show up. Texas usually gets production from one of its guards, be it Isaiah Taylor, Kendal Yancy or Javan Felix. It’s whether the bigs can do the same thing for the Longhorns. They have a bigger team and need to use that to their advantage, which hasn’t usually happened. Freshman Myles Turner is the x-factor because he’ll see plenty of time against Cliff Alexander.
Texas may not win, but as the season winds down, one has to think the urgency will pick up with this group. If not, well, we know how the Jayhawks play when things are going their way at home.
Our Prediction – Kansas by 10