Can Kansas State post its first win in Lawrence in nine seasons? Join us as we preview and supply a free NCAA basketball pick for the Big 12 rivalry between the Wildcats and Kansas.
Kansas and Kansas State haven't been playing basketball since the Sunflower State first entered the Union in 1861, it just seems that way.
The Wildcats and Jayhawks renew their rivalry for the 280th time Saturday afternoon in Lawrence, and ESPN's cameras will be on hand at a jam-packed Allen Fieldhouse for the 2 PM (ET) broadcast. Kansas started -11½, and SBR's live NCAA basketball odds is now showing some sports books at-12.
The Big 12 race is beginning to separate into three distinct tiers with KU in familiar territory at the top of the heap. Kansas State is sort of in the middle of bunch, but still just a game-&-a-half from Kansas.
The Jayhawks have built better than a 2:1 all-time advantage in this series thanks to total domination in the Big 12 era. Kansas stands 187-92 overall, 39-4 since the old Southwest and Big 8 conferences welded together at the start of the 1996 football campaign.
Last season's series was a split, each team winning and covering at home. The Jayhawks have won eight in a row in Lawrence, K-State's last victory at Allen Fieldhouse coming a little more than nine years ago. Three of the last four played on this floor skipped past the scoreboard barriers, and the Jayhawks have covered each of their eight wins in the current home streak.
Cats Spending Most Of Next 3 Weeks On Road
After enjoying five of the first eight conference tilts at home, Kansas State (12-9 straight up, 11-7 against the spread) will be spending most of its time away from Manhattan the next few weeks. Saturday's tussle in Lawrence begins a stretch of seven games during which five will be on the road, the only two home games coming against ranked foes.
The Wildcats didn't enjoy a good sendoff for the tough upcoming schedule, dropping a 65-59 decision Tuesday at home to a West Virginia squad that is climbing in the ranks and RPI. Depending how you look at it, KSU and the Mountaineers either played a very sloppy game, or a very physical one as the two clubs combined to commit 45 turnovers and more than 50 fouls between them. The difference between a win and a loss for Kansas State came at the free-throw line where the 'Cats missed 15 of their 35 tosses.
That's not the first time that K-State choked up at the charity stripe this season, the team running very cold at times and hot at others. One thing the Wildcats have done consistently well at, however, is on the defensive end where they've only allowed one conference opponent to break 70 and rank second giving up 60.5 PPG in Big 12 action.
Jayhawks Have Rematch With Iowa State On Deck
Most people could probably tell you that Kansas (17-3 SU, 12-7 ATS) was leading the conference, but I wonder how many know the Jayhawks have risen to No. 1 in RPI? A tough non-conference slate is playing heavily in those rankings, and with games against teams that are beginning to slough off a bit like Texas and Oklahoma remaining, that overall strength of schedule should begin to wane.
Bill Self's squad has bounced back nicely from their only Big 12 loss at Iowa State two weeks ago, and defense has seen a marked improvement during the current 4-game win streak. The Jayhawks are first in the conference holding the opposition to 37.2% from the field, and limited Texas and TCU to just 5-of-30 from beyond the arc in the last two wins.
Kansas has a rematch with Iowa State in Lawrence on Monday, and it would be silly to think the Jayhawks aren't anxious to get a little revenge. But with a rivalry game like this one, they also shouldn't be overlooking the Wildcats completely. Kansas State is also likely going to have to play this one without senior forward Nino Williams who suffered a left knee injury in the West Virginia game, so my free college NCAA basketball pick is going to rock chalk on the Jayhawks.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -11.5 at 5Dimes
Season: 37-32 (+1.80)