Kansas With Multiple Advantages to Cover Short Chalk at Texas

Mark Lathrop

Friday, December 29, 2017 1:26 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 1:26 PM UTC

Our NCAAB handicapper, Mark Lathrop, sits at 21-10 ATS on the season after pegging two conference openers in the last two days. Here he breaks down the premier Big 12 Conference opener and gives his NCAAB pick.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 21-10 (+10.35 Units)

No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks at Texas LonghornsFree NCAAB Pick: KU -2.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Another night and another set of conference openers on Friday, as the Big 12 tips off play. I’ve been asked to cover one of the marquee matchups of the night, with the AP 11th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks visiting the Texas Longhorns in Austin. Texas comes into the game 9-3 SU on the season so far but just 3-5 ATS, while the Kansas Jayhawks are 10-2 SU and a more successful 7-4 ATS for bettors. The lines have opened with the ranked team favored slightly on the road – pegging Kansas as -2.5 favorites. The O/U total has opened at 135 at early movers such as BookMaker.

One of my favorite freshman to watch this season has been Mohamed Bamba of Texas. The early comparisons have been to Hassan Whiteside, and the 6’ 11” Bamba doesn’t disappoint on the eye test as a physical specimen. He’s averaging nearly a double-double with 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. Bamba is also 6th in the country in block percentage as calculated by Kenpom.com. Bamba will be countered by Kansas star and 7-foot sophomore center Udoka Azubuike, who has been basically the top big man in the country the last few weeks. He’s No. 1 in field goal percentage in the country and hits at a 77.9% clip. Azubuike has also been efficient lately, putting up huge numbers while only getting mid-20s in minutes per game.

What I’m seeing with Bamba very early in his career is that he has been stifled by stiffer competition. With Kansas being ranked 6th in overall Pomeroy rankings our best comparisons are in matchups vs. Gonzaga and Duke just over a month ago, ranked 12th and 4th in those same rankings. In those games, Bamba was neutralized and held to 9 points in each and got into foul trouble. “Neutralized” also means that he picked up his usual 10 rebounds as well. Texas ended up losing those games in overtime on neutral courts.

Speaking of neutral courts, the Longhorns' home court advantage may also be a bit lower than normal with Texas on Christmas break until Jan. 4. In looking for the slightest of edges against the 17th-ranked Kansas offense, this has to be considered. The other stat I don’t like for Texas is its overall free-throw shooting percentage, which sits at just 62.4 on the season. In what appears to be a tight game, this can be used against the Horns. Kansas has beat Texas SU in 4 straight meetings, and I don’t think this is the game that will change. I will take the Jayhawks with a quiet road crowd at -2.5 as my Friday NCAAB pick.

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