College Basketball Pick
This may be the third time the Big 12/SEC challenge is taking place, but it’s the first time it will be in the middle of the Conference slate. Putting these matchups at the end of January will only make things harder on each team.
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Kansas has a couple more days rest, and are playing at Allen Fieldhouse, so that’s a big boost, but the Jayhawks are also coming off a tough Game at Iowa State earlier in the week. They were considered the best team in the country for a little bit, but have since struggled since losing at West Virginia a couple weeks ago. They barely took down TCU and Texas at home and then lost at Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
Kentucky can’t say many better things about its Four losses this year, but the Wildcats have been playing better as of late. Some of that is Schedule, and it’ll help coming into this Game that they just had two favorable home Games against lower end teams. But against the best, this is still a confusing team.
Kentucky beat Duke and Louisville in non-Conference play, but also lost to UCLA and Oho State. Kansas took care of that same UCLA team earlier in the season and only lost one non-Conference contest to Michigan State in just the second Game of the year.
Both of these teams have had issues throughout the year, one of them being stud incoming freshmen that haven’t had great starts. Cheick Diallo got a slow start to the season and hasn’t done much for Kansas, while Skal LAbissiere is hit or miss every night, mostly miss. He came up big in 20 minutes against Arkansas last week, but the two Games surrounding that one he only played 12 total minutes.
If Diallo can be a factor, the Jayhawks have a roster set to make a deep Tourney run. Otherwise, there’s a lot of inconsistency on the squad that has been a problem. Perry Ellis has been better in his senior season, but with an improved three-point shot, one would think he could Scoremore than 16.7 points per Game. If he’s not in a rhythm, he’s still a bit shy to lead this team. That’s where Wayne Selden and Frank Mason come in to form one of the better backcOurts in the country along with Devonte’ Graham. Not many teams can deal with what this team has on the perimeter, but down low, it’s a different story.
LAnden LUcas and Jamari Traylor have spurts of goodness, but neither are really difference makers in the post and that’s kind of where Diallo was supposed to step in. The good news is that Kentucky is kind of in the same mold. Alex Poythress is still scoring less than he did as a freshman and it’s always a question of when he’ll have a good Game. Marcus Lee is having a bigger role this year as well, but still isn’t a guy that can take over.
The Wildcats are led by their guards in Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis and Isaiah Briscoe. Ulis runs the show and is the main guy Kansas has to focus on stopping. The Jayhawks haven’t been that great defensively as of late, but if they can stop Ulis at all, Kentucky will struggle. Murray leads the Cats in scoring at 17.8 points per Game, but he’s more of a shooter with twice as many threes as anyone else on the team.
These teams are built fairly similarly, much different than a year ago when Kentucky won this Game 72-40. Kansas would like some revenge after getting embarrassed on a national stage and they’ll definitely put a full effort at home in this Game. The Wildcats still aren’t at a level of where they can win this Game, especially if the Jayhawks come out hot. It could be over early on.
Predicted ScoreKansas 83 Kentucky 75