NCAA Tournament Picks for Eastern Kentucky vs. Kansas

Steven Suarez

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 6:47 PM GMT

Will Eastern Kentucky make life difficult on Bill Self's team, or will the Jayhawks hardly break a sweat en route to the cover on the college basketball odds board?

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Odds Overview
At a majority of top college basketball betting sites, we find Kansas favored by 14.5 points, though 15 is also available for those that are thinking about backing the underdogs. The total opened at 146.5 on the college basketball odds board but has risen to 148.

The Jayhawks sit at 24-9 SU and 16-16-1 ATS, with the Colonels at 24-9 SU and 14-12-1 ATS on the year.

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Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Surprised to see Eastern Kentucky in the Big Dance and not Belmont? We are too.

The Colonels have no doubt earned their right to represent the OVC in the NCAA tournament though, closing out the regular season with seven straight wins, including a clean sweep in the conference tournament. They overcame Belmont 79-73 in the title game to book their spot.

Eastern Kentucky got here thanks to one of the more efficient offenses in the country. They rank #27 in the nation in points (79.0 per game) and are #11 in field goal percentage at 49.0 percent overall. The Colonels have also been dangerous from three, where they hit 39.0 percent.

Glenn Cosey and Corey Walden are the ones to watch, averaging 32.9 points per game between them heading into this second round tilt with Kansas. No other Colonel has averaged in double figures, though Marcus Lewis, Orlando Williams, Tarius Johnson and Eric Stutz are all close.

Led by Cosey, who plays a team-high 36.2 minutes per game and has season averages of 18.8/4.2/3.2, Eastern Kentucky is going to try and spread the floor and hope their shots fall. They lack any semblance of presence inside.

 

Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks may have fallen short in the Big 12 tournament, but they still enter the NCAA tournament as a legitimate contender for the national championship.

Kansas bowed out to a red-hot Iowa State team in the semi-finals, which was the team's third loss in five games. Still, the Jayhawks' overall resume is highly impressive, with quality victories over Duke, Iowa State (twice), Oklahoma State (twice) and Texas, just to name a few.

Of course, Kansas' chances of a run to the Final Four would improve dramatically if Joel Embiid was able to play. However, his back still remains an issue and he's unlikely to feature in the tournament.

What that means is freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins, along with Perry Ellis, will have to do most of the heavy lifting.

Wiggins has been outstanding lately, averaging a ridiculous 31 points over his last three appearances, and heads into the tournament playing the best basketball of his young collegiate career. Ellis has been maddeningly inconsistent this season, but he was fantastic against the Cyclones (30 points on 11-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds) last week and Kansas needs everything they can get out of the talented sophomore.

 

College Basketball Pick
After the Jayhawks' likely win, they will do battle with either New Mexico or Stanford in what should be a much more competitive matchup.

As for Friday's opening round game, do we think Kansas will cover the huge number for our college basketball picks?

Indeed we do. Embiid may be out, but that's only given Wiggins a bigger platform to shine and he's more than risen to the occasion. Ellis has also stepped up recently and should have a field day against the undersized Colonels.

All in all, the Jayhawks are still looking as efficient as ever offensively and we'd be surprised if they had trouble cruising to a blowout win on Friday.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Kansas Jayhawks -14.5