Jayhawks-Wildcats Epic Clash To Stay Under In Lexington

Kentucky Wildcats

Saturday, January 28, 2017 2:34 PM GMT

With both sides coming off upset losses, the stage is set for a showdown when Kentucky takes on Kansas in the marquee contest on Saturday's college basketball betting card.

Season: 26-26-1 (-2.60)

Saturday's fracas between the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats was circled as a huge game on many calendars before the season. It was made even bigger when both teams lost earlier this week to set up something of a must-win situation for each in this SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Yes, there will definitely be a Final Four feel to this the 6:15 PM (ET) tip at Rupp Arena in Lexington. ESPN will carry the broadcast and Kentucky is a 7 point favorite at Bookmaker, 169½ the number for scoreboard bettors.

It hasn't been a good week for the upper crust in latest polls, Kansas and Kentucky among five top-6 clubs taking a loss the past few days. Despite their first conference setbacks, the Jayhawks and Wildcats still own at least a share of the leads in their respective leagues. Bill Self's side shares top billing in the Big 12 with Baylor, each at 7-1, with John Calipari's crew also 7-1 and a half-game up on South Carolina in the SEC.

 UK & KU Both 1-4 ATS Last 5

A couple of factors conspired against Kansas (18-2 straight up, 6-12 against the spread) in the 85-69 loss at West Virginia a few days ago. Even with their opponents being a strong Mountaineers squad, the Jayhawks had to at least been peeking ahead to this game against the Wildcats. Self also noted that a recent investigation by police into an alleged sexual assault in a dorm where several players live has been a distraction all week.

Give the Volunteers some of the credit for taking down Kentucky (17-3 SU, 11-8 ATS) this past Tuesday, an 82-80 final in Knoxville where the Wildcats were giving up 10½ on the NCAA basketball odds. But also understand the Wildcats beat themselves in while failing to cover for the fourth time in five contests. The setback marked the first time since the previous loss at Louisville a little before Christmas that Kentucky failed to shoot 50%, and also was a result in one of the team's worst efforts from behind the arc (6-24).

 Rematch Of 2012 NCAA Championship In New Orleans

These two bluebloods have met 29 times, nine of those matchups taking place on neutral floors, the most recent of those at the 2012 NCAA Championship, and it's Kentucky with a strong 22-7 lead in the series. They met almost exactly a year ago at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence where the Jayhawks scored a 90-84 overtime victory favored by 5½. That game skipped past a 150 point total in regulation, stopping a string of three consecutive 'under' winners in their clashes. The Wildcats have won seven of eight battles in Lexington, Kansas' only win at Rupp coming in the 2005 season.

The matter with police and unrelated suspension of sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr. could either be a rallying point for the Jayhawks coming off their loss, or it could leave them flat and in store for a real butt-whippin' today. Neither team has me feeling real confident playing the spread, so my free college basketball pick is on the 'under.'

Free NCAA Basketball: Under 169½ Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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