College Basketball Betting Free Pick: Kansas State Wildcats at Kansas Jayhawks
CBB FREE PICK: Kansas State Wildcats at Kansas Jayhawks
#603 Kansas State +16.5 (Tuesday, January 21 @ 7 pm EST)
Tonight’s free college basketball pick comes out of the Big 12 as in-state rivals Kansas State (8-9) and Kansas (14-3) face off in Lawrence. The Wildcats are coming off of their biggest win of the season when they took down then #12 West Virginia, 84-68. Kansas has won its last two games as they are now ranked #3 in the country.
Don’t let Kansas State’s record scare you. The Wildcats are below .500 but none of their nine losses came by more than 14 points and five were by six points or less. When you have nine losses and your worst one is against a Power 5 team that is currently 11-6, there is no shame there.
The Wildcats have no doubt had their struggles, particularly on the offense end where they average just 65.7 points per game, which ranks 307th in the country. They are below averaging shooting from everywhere on the court (233rd FG%, 183rd 3PT% and 280th FT%). But the defense is strong (49th in efficiency) and perhaps the offense is coming around after hanging 84 on West Virginia who is currently third nationally in defensive efficiency.
Kansas has thrived on both ends of the floor this season including the no. 1 ranked defensive efficiency in the country entering tonight’s game. And they’ve been able to offset the 3-point line being moved back by scoring over 55% of their points from 2-point range. Not only that, they are extremely successful at doing so at 55.8%.
Kansas is once again one of the powerhouse teams in the country but when it comes to big spreads, the Jayhawks are a modest 4-4 ATS when favored by double-digits. And it becomes even trickier to cover big numbers considering the current nature of the Big 12.
“We hung 66 tonight and it felt like we were really on fire,” Self said after KU’s 66-52 win at Oklahoma on Tuesday, which came four days before KU knocked off Texas, 66-57, in Austin. “That’s how hard it is to score. “I don’t see it going away,” he said. “The way (Texas) Tech and Baylor and West Virginia play defense, and OU’s good defensively, Texas is really good, K-State hangs their hat on that and, of course, we try to guard too. It could be a first-one-to-60 type league. I know that’s not exciting for a lot of people, but the spin on the positive is those are more like NCAA Tournament games. So you learn to grind out games like that and play low-possession games, which may translate to the way games are in the NCAA Tournament.”
Kansas basically plays with an eight-man rotation with six of those players averaging 7.8 PPG or higher. The majority of their offense runs through three players, PG Devon Dotson (18.2 PPG), Center Udoka Azubuike (13.1 PPG) and SG Ochai Agbaji (10.5 PPG). Kansas State plays with a deeper rotation than the Jayhawks which should give them an advantage late in the game. While Kansas only has five players who average more than 16.5 minutes per game, Kansas State has nine. Of those nine players, seven of them average between 4.0 and 6.9 PPG which signifies balanced scoring.
Depth and solid defense in a low possession rivalry game suggest the big underdog should be able to stick around tonight.