NCAA Basketball Picks: Back Kansas In Statement Game vs. Kentucky

Ted Sevransky

Saturday, January 30, 2016 6:46 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 6:46 PM GMT

The No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats (16-4) visit the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas favored by 5.5 points on the NCAA Basketball odds board and the total is set at 149. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -5.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

There’s no question that the Kentucky Wildcats have matured as a team over the course of the last month.  Head coach John Calipari spent most of November and December telling anyone who would listen that this year’s version of the Wildcats was waaaaaaaay down compared to recent versions, particularly when it came to a ‘confidence and chemistry’ standpoint. 

Kentucky got blasted in their first true road test at UCLA.  They lost to a ‘glass chin’ Ohio State team on a neutral floor; the same Buckeyes team that got absolutely annihilated in several of their own early tests away from home, most notably at Indiana and at Maryland.  Kentucky was road chalk at LSU, but the Tigers led wire-to-wire in an 18 point loss for Coach Cal and company.

There’s no question that ‘early season’ Kentucky went through some ugly growing pains.  There’s also no question that a team with more freshman talent than any squad in the country has found their mojo in recent weeks, particularly in hostile environments.
The results don’t lie.  Since that LSU loss, we’ve seen Kentucky cruise to victory on the road at Alabama and Arkansas, both wire-to-wire double digit wins.  In their last two games overall, we saw the Wildcats throttle a pretty good Vanderbilt team and a pretty bad Missouri one.

For the first time all season, Kentucky has been an undervalued commodity of late – their current three game ATS winning streak is their longest pointspread winning streak since last February, well before their trip to the Final Four.

But Kansas is a different animal entirely.  There’s a reason why a Kentucky team that hadn’t been an underdog all year, or an underdog in any game last year, is suddenly catching +5.5 points on the NCAA Basketball odds board today!

Unlike Kentucky, Kansas is loaded with quality, veteran talent.  Leading scorer and rebounder Perry Ellis is a senior.  Leading perimeter threat Wayne Selden Jr is a junior.  Point guard Frank Mason III is a junior as well, as are key role players Landen Lucas and Brannen Greene. Bill Self has elite veterans on his squad, something Coach Cal can only dream about.

All the veterans on the Jayhawks remember well what happened when they faced Kentucky on a neutral floor in Indianapolis last year.  Kansas lost 72-40.  They made 11 shots in a 40 minute game, hitting under 20% from the floor, and just 55% from the free throw line.  It was an absolute embarrassment.

Now the Jayhawks get the Wildcats on their home floor, where they’ve won every single game in SU fashion this year while putting up some dominant stats: 49% shooting overall, 45% shooting from three point range while their defense has held opponents under 39% from the floor.  I firmly believe that the Big 12 is the best conference in the country this year, and this is a price worth laying with our NCAA Basketball picks with one of (if not the) best teams from the best conference in a major statement game revenge matchup on their home floor!

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