NCAA Basketball Picks: TCU vs. Kansas

Willie Bee

Saturday, February 23, 2013 4:28 PM GMT

A shot at a fourth straight win awaits the Jayhawks on Saturday when they host the TCU Horned Frogs.  The tip will come shortly after 4 PM (ET) inside what should be a rockin' Phog Allen Fieldhouse.

Rumors of their death were premature.

Granted, seeing a team like the Kansas Jayhawks lose three straight always bring out the death knell ringers.  Then again, teams like KU can shut those folks up, and shut 'em up real quick.

Early basketball odds released had Kansas favored by as many as 25, but that spread settled in at 23.5 by early Saturday morning.  Like more than half of the games on the college basketball betting board today, no total was available, possibly due to the Game Total Line Setters Union being on strike or else the books simply not confident enough to release overnight totals with so many contests on the schedule.

One reason the partisan KU crowd figures to be amped up for this one are pregame ceremonies celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1988 Jayhawks squad that won the national title.  That squad included Player of the Year Danny Manning and was a bit of a long shot entering the NCAA Tournament with a 21-11 overall record, finishing third in Big 8 play with a 9-5 mark.

This year's crew will be among the favorites once March Madness rolls around.  Kansas is 12/1 to win the NCAA National Championship in the latest NCAA futures odds at Bovada, seventh on the list behind Indiana (5/1), Miami (11/2), Florida (6/1), Michigan (8/1), Duke (9/1) and Gonzaga (10/1).

Jayhawks Can Avenge Setback In Ft. Worth

There's still plenty of basketball to be played before Kansas backers can collect on those tickets, however, and foremost on Bill Self's mind right now is making sure his team gets a little revenge today against Texas Christian.  The 3-game losing streak to begin February included a 62-55 defeat in Ft. Worth as 17-point road chalk, an ugly effort that saw the Jayhawks net just 13 points in the first half.

Self called it "the worst team Kansas ever put on the floor," and the stats certainly prove his point.  The Jayhawks managed only two points through the first 15:54 of the opening stanza, and shot a season-worst 29.5% from the field, hitting just 3-of-22 tries from beyond the arc.

The final margin could've been much worse if TCU had been able to convert free throws.  The Frogs missed 16 tosses from the charity stripe (22-of-38) as KU guards Travis Releford and Elijah  Johnson each fouled out while combining for nine points.

Kansas did play decent defense in the game, discounting the 29 fouls, and that has been the calling card of this squad.  The Jayhawks lead the nation allowing opponents to shoot 35.4%, and rank first on the Big 12 slate giving up 61.4 points per game at a 36.6% FG success clip.

[gameodds]14/221819/43/us[/gameodds]

Horned Frogs Reeling As They Arrive In Lawrence

What makes Kansas' worst ever performance in Cowtown even more embarrassing is it came against the worst that the Big 12 has to offer this season.  That victory over the Jayhawks remains the lone conference triumph for the Horned Frogs who sit 1-12 in league play.  TCU enters Saturday having dropped all four games since the win, and it won't get any easier after this game with both Oklahoma State and Kansas State still left to play in the final two weeks.

Only two teams -- Howard and Grambling State -- are scoring less than the Frogs (54.2 ppg), and the 62 vs. Kansas represent something of an explosion for them in conference play where they're averaging 51.0 per match.  On the defensive side, the current 4-game slide saw all four opponents shoot 50% or better.

There isn't much joy in laying nearly two dozen points, but it's also difficult to have much confidence in this TCU bunch.  I'll bite the bullet in the end and hope Releford continues his improved play since Kansas' losing streak; Jayhawks win 75-50 for your college basketball picks.

My NCAAB Pick: Kansas -23.5 at 5Dimes

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