NCAA Basketball Pick: Colorado -1 over #6 Kansas

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, December 7, 2013 5:00 AM GMT

The sixth ranked Kansas Jayhawks could be in serious danger of losing for the second time in three games as they visited the currently unranked Colorado Buffaloes Saturday.

There is a good reason that the sixth ranked team in the country is a small underdog on Saturday when those Kansas Jayhawks (6-1, 0-0 away) pay a visit to the Colorado Buffaloes (8-1, 6-0 away) at the Coors Events Center in Boulder, CO at 3:15 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Colorado as a tiny home favorite for this contest with the current line at -1 with odds of -117.

Kansas was off to a 5-0 start, but they struggled in their last two games during the Battle 4 Atlantis last week first losing outright to Villanova and then just getting by UTEP 67-63. It is probably not a coincidence that they struggled has freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins had the two worst games of his brief college career, shooting a combined 5-for-17 from the floor in those two games. Wiggins now gets to experience his first true road game with Kansas.

And it is not just any road game, as the altitude of Colorado has affected many teams while the Buffaloes have gone 50-7 in this arena since Tad Boyle took over as head coach, including 6-0 this season with an average winning margin of +16.0 points.

That is not to imply that Colorado needs to be home to have success as the Buffaloes went a combined 45-24 the last two seasons in their first two years as members of the Pac-12, and they are looking for bigger things this year after falling to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March. But it does certainly help that the Buffaloes have a bigger home court advantage than many other teams at this mile high altitude.

The Buffs have now won eight straight games since an opening night loss to a good Baylor team in a semi-road game in Dallas with the last two wins coming on the road. They grade out well on the early efficiency ratings, especially on the defensive end where they are ranked 19th in the country while also ranking a respectable 88th in offensive efficiency.

Perhaps the biggest key to the Colorado offense and maybe even the biggest key to this game is the ability of the Buffaloes to get to the foul line. Colorado is ranked an excellent 27th in the nation in FTA/FGA percentage and it usually knows what to do when it gets there, shooting a good 74.1 percent. The Buffaloes also have their own NBA candidate in Spencer Dinwiddie, a 6-foot-6 junior averaging 15.3 points per game that is 61-for-70 (87.1 percent) from the foul line.

The 5-0 start by Kansas included a double-digit win over the Duke Blue Devils on a neutral court in Chicago, but the 94-83 triumph has lost some of its luster as it has become more apparent with each passing game that Duke has the worst defense it has had in recent memory this season. So while the offense is still averaging 80.1 points per game, the 59 and 67 points respectively the Jayhawks scored the last two games with a struggling Wiggins are concerning.

Also, if this is a close game late, this is a game where the Kansas free throw shooting could prove fatal. Yes, the Jayhawks are another team gets to the foul line a lot ranking 22nd in FTA/FGA percentage, but unlike Colorado, Kansas does not shoot them well ranking 243rd in the land at a poor 67.3 percent.

Add up that expected free throw disparity and a huge home court advantage, and it is totally understandable why sixth ranked Kansas is the underdog here as we expect Colorado to emerge victorious on Saturday.

[gameodds]14/251619/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Colorado -1 (-117)