College Basketball Pick
One thing Kansas loves to do is play in close Games. While the Jayhawks have come out on the winning end in most of those contests, that’s still reason enough to back a struggling Texas team in Austin. The Longhorns have just Four wins in Big 12 play and have lost Four straight, but have continually put up a fight in home Games. Their three Conference losses at home have all come by three points or less (and all home wins by Four points or less), while they’ve beaten Texas Tech and Iowa State.
The Jayhawks have been similarly consistent with close Games on the road, winning their last three by three points or less. Needless to say, this one could be headed for yet another back-and-forth final two minutes. But do the Longhorns have a chance against a KU team that seems to win almost every one of these Games? The reason for that success starts and ends with the Kansas trio of Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson. The Jayhawks continue to win because in any adversity, one of those guys steps up and gets the job done. And it hasn’t been just one of them coming through, all of them have had their moment to shine.
When these teams met in LAwrence a month ago, the Game was never too close, but Texas at least stuck around the entire way. That was made possible by the dominance of freshman Jarrett Allen, who finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds, mostly against LAnden LUcas. It would make sense for Kansas to play a different kind of defense in order to limit Allen’s looks, but they still don’t have the size or skill to go against him. The problem for the Longhorns was that no one else produced at a consistent rate in that first meeting outside of Andrew Jones off the bench (15 points). Third-leading scorer Kerwin Roach was just 1-of-9 from the field and finished with two points. To have a chance at winning, someone else on Texas needs to have a big Game, whether that’s Eric Davis, Shaq Cleare or Jones, it doesn’t matter.
The Longhorns aren’t going to win this Game through defense alone and that was seen in that 79-67 loss a month ago. It’s too unrealistic to think they’ll be able to stop Graham, Mason and Jackson, but also Svi Mykhailiuk. LUcas is there to rebound and play defense with the other Four guys the only main scorers. Texas also has to do a better job of holding onto the ball as they coughed it up 19 times against a Kansas defense that doesn’t excel at forcing turnovers.
The main reason to back the Jayhawks is that Texas probably has the worst offense in the league and can’t get consistent production outside of Allen. But again, the Longhorns continue to battle it out in home Games and Allen has a noticeable edge down low. A Longhorns upset is possible, but they don’t have enough guys to come through in the clutch, something that Kansas has three of.
Our pick – Kansas by 11