Free Tournament Picks: Austin Peay Will Keep Things Close Against Kansas

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:34 PM GMT

In Des Moines, right after Colorado and UConn wrap up, the NCAA tournament South Region continues with top overall seed Kansas taking the floor again the Ohio Valley champion Austin Peay.

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Since the bids were announced Sunday, there has been a lot of whining about the Jayhawks having such a tough path and their bracket is unfairly hard and all the rest. What nobody is giving credence to is this is called March Madness and while Kansas journey might seem complicated, an upset or two along the way and they could be playing a far lower seed along the way. The fact remains, if Bill Self's team is truly worthy of being the top choice, they find a way to win six games and are crowned champions.

This will be Austin Peay's first game in 12 days and if a team needed a rest if was the Governors, who won the OVC the hard way, winning four games in four days, including two by one and two points.

This matchup is scheduled for 4:00 ET tip on TNT and the NCAA tournament odds have Kansas a 26-point favorite with total of 152.

 

Austin Peay
SU and ATS Records - 18-17, 13-15-1 ATS

Away Record -11-10 and 11-6-1 ATS

Underdog Record - 9-10 and 11-8 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 6-9 and 4-7 ATS

Off a SU Loss - 9-8 SU and 6-8 ATS

 

Kansas
SU and ATS Record - 30-4, 20-11 ATS

Away Record - 14-4 and 12-5 ATS

Favorite Record - 26-3 and 19-10 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 18-1 and 10-6 ATS

Off a SU Win - 25-4 SU and 18-9 ATS

 

The Game Scoop
Since losing to Iowa State 15 games ago, two key elements have altered Kansas fortunes. It started with greater commitment to playing defense. The Jayhawks numbers were not bad previously, but only five of last 14 opponents in this winning streak have managed to shot over 40 percent and forget about opposing teams drifting out to beat the Jayhawks from deep, as only three foes have shot over 36 percent from behind the arc, after this happened 10 times in the Kansas first 20 contests.

The other factor has been increased depth with individuals with specific skills. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Landen Lucas add key minutes with not much drop off and have wholly bought into Bill Self's defensive principles and team concepts. At this point, anyone making NCAA tournament picks knows what Perry Ellis (16.7 PPG), Wayne Selden Jr. (13.3 PPG) and Frank Mason III (4.7 APG) offer for the Jayhawks.

Austin Peay has won six in a row and is not going to dazzle you with great defense (76 PPG allowed), but if you don't get up on them as shooters, this contingent is feelin' it! The Governors average 76 PPG on 46.3 percent shooting, but in their last eight games, they are connecting in nearly 51 percent from the field. The two important names to know are Chris Horton (18.9 PPG and 12 RPG) and Josh Robinson (16.7 PPG). Can Austin Peay actually make this interesting?

 

Spread Winner and Totals Lean
Typical logic would suggest the Governors could cover the spread because they can score, they will be more excited to face top-ranked team and Kansas has little motivation. The concern is the Austin Peay defense, which could allow a couple 10-0 Jayhawks runs in a short period, making this a 50-50 cover spot. Austin Peay started the season losing to Vanderbilt by 39 and Indiana by 26 and while we think they are much improved since November, they have not faced a man to man defense like this.

In the end, I would rather take the points than give them, consider the underdog for +13 or +14 for first half wager and the OVER for total with Austin Peay 6-0 OVER off an upset win as an underdog this season.

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NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Austin Peay +26
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek