NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas Longhorns vs. Kansas Jayhawks

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, February 22, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 5:00 AM UTC

The regular season Big 12 title could be decided when the conference leading Kansas Jayhawks host the second place Texas Longhorns in a revenge spot Saturday night.

The Big 12 leaders could have their hands full even at home Saturday night when the Texas Longhorns (20-6, 5-3 away) pay a visit to those Kansas Jayhawks (20-6, 11-1 home) at Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Texas as a double-digit road favorite for this contest with the current line at +10 with odds of -106.

Kansas is now at 11-2 inside the Big 12 and while the Jayhawks cannot officially wrap up the regular season title with a win here, they would be in great shape if they knock off the second place 9-4 Longhorns as this is probably the Jayhawks’ toughest game remaining. Still, we do not think Kansas will have an easy time with Texas here as we think the Jayhawks are overlays giving this many points.

Texas can actually keep itself very much alive in the conference race with a victory, as besides cutting the gap behind Kansas to just one game in the loss column, it would complete a season sweep of the Jayhawks after beating them in Austin rather handily 81-69 back on February 1st.

The oft maligned Rick Barnes has done an excellent job as coach of the Longhorns as they have surpassed preseason expectations being 20-6 at this point of the season, and the Horns have been very solid on both ends of the court, ranking 55th in offensive efficiency and 28th in defensive efficiency. And it was the defense that keyed the Texas upset in Austin as a four-point underdog.

The Longhorns held a very good Kansas offense to just 38.5 percent shooting that day, as the Jayhawks almost unbelievably made just 19 of their 51 two-point attempts (37.3 percent), and Texas also had 12 blocked shots including four apiece by Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh. And more importantly, that effort was not an aberration for the Texas defense.

That is because the Horns are 32nd in the country in two-point defense at just 43.7 percent while also ranking third in the Big 12 in that category during conference games, and they are sixth in the entire nation in blocked shot percentage at 16.5 percent, shattering the national average of 9.8 percent. Texas is also second inside the conference in blocked shot percentage.

Now, Kansas is not a Top 10 team by accident as it ranks an outstanding fifth in offensive efficiency and 36th in defensive efficiency. Still, the stiff Texas defense did the best job of defending the Jayhawks of any other Big 12 team this year, as the only other Kansas conference loss was in overtime 85-82 vs. their arch rival Kansas State Wildcats.

Granted the Jayhawks almost never lose at Allen Fieldhouse, although they did lose once in Lawrence this season out of conference vs. San Diego State, but this large spread is the great equalizer here vs. probably the best defense Kansas has seen all season.

And if Kansas does have an Achilles Heel, it is in the turnover department on both ends of the floor as the Jayhawks are 237th in the country on offensive turnover percentage and 287th in defensive turnover percentage. Texas is above average in not turning the ball over offensively, so Texas should also be able to milk some clock effectively here while not facing much pressure if it chooses to.

Add this all up and Texas appears to offer good value catching double-digits in Lawrence on Saturday.


NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +10 (-106)

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