Kansas-UNLV Matchup To Fall Short Of Total

Kansas Jayhawks player

Willie Bee

Thursday, December 22, 2016 2:18 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 2:18 PM GMT

No. 3 Kansas has won 10 games in a row as it visits UNLV on Thursday night, and with the Runnin' Rebels dealing with some injuries sportsbooks have  made the Jayhawks huge favorites. But the better value is on the total. 

One team is a perennial powerhouse seeking its 13th straight conference title under the guidance of a legendary head coach. The other used to be among the national contenders and is now looking to rebuild its program with a first-year head coach at the helm.

That's the backdrop Thursday at the Thomas and Mack Center for the matchup between the No. 3 Jayhawks and Runnin' Rebels. Tip-off in Sin City comes a bit past 9 p.m. ET, with CBS Sports Network providing the coverage. Coverage on the spread depends which side of a -21 number on Kansas you choose, BookMaker offering 152½ for the total.

The Rebels are looking for their first win over the Jayhawks in a series that dates to 1989 at Madison Square Garden and includes a meeting in the 2008 Big Dance, Kansas going on to win the title that year. It's the first time they've met in Las Vegas, the Jayhawks picking up their fifth straight win in the rivalry close to two years ago in Lawrence. Favored by 13 at home, KU overcame a shaky start in a 76-61 victory, the final having just enough to skip past 134½.

 

Rock Chalk Seeking 11th Straight Win

Since losing its season opener in overtime to Indiana, Kansas (10-1 straight up, 4-5 against the spread) has reeled off 10 consecutive Ws, the first of which came against Duke as a small underdog on the NCAA basketball odds. This will be the first true road game for the Jayhawks, who started the season with 'under' winners in four of their first five contests only to post 'over' winners in the last four lined affairs.

With the exception of its first two tilts vs. the Hoosiers and Blue Devils, Bill Self's side has been laden with heavy chalk, spreads in the last seven games running from -13½ (Georgia) to -25½ (Long Beach State). The Jayhawks were challenged last Saturday in Kansas City against Davidson, but ran past the Wildcats in the second half for an 89-71 win and cover.

 

Injuries Hampering Runnin' Rebels

Coach Marvin Menzies came over from New Mexico State after a good showing with the Aggies in the WAC, the fourth head coach UNLV (7-5 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) has had since the start of last season. In addition to cleaning up some of the mess left behind first by Dave Rice and the the school being jilted by his replacement Chris Beard (Rebs also had an interim coach after Rice's firing), Menzies hasn't had the Rebels at full strength since the beginning of the season and will likely not have the services of senior Christian Jones and junior Dwayne Morgan for this game, leaving UNLV thin in the frontcourt.

Offense, offense and more offense has been the Kansas calling card so far, the Jayhawks ninth in the country averaging 88 PPG. They're also muscling teams on the glass, though there isn't much of a need on the offensive end with the team hitting on over 52% of its field goal attempts. In the final non-conference game for both teams, I'm going to play the 'under' for my free NCAA basketball pick. Season record: 16-15 (-0.50 units)

NCAAB Free Pick: 'Under' 152.5Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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