Off just their third loss of the season, the Kansas Jayhawks will be on the rebound in Monday's college basketball odds matchup in Lawrence against the Oklahoma Sooners.
There is no shortage of tight conference races this season on the college hoops front. From the America East to the Western Athletic Conference, the ranks are closely quartered and giving us key matchups each day of the week.
This year's Big 12 race is shaping up possibly be the best of them all, a real battle royal throw-down that leaves everyone exhausted and bloodied.
The Kansas Jayhawks, of course, have been kings of the league for 10-straight seasons and find themselves in a real tussle to make it 11 in a row. Bill Self's squad also finds itself in the midst of a tough stretch on the slate with a 3rd-straight ranked opponent in the form of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Monday's mayhem begins at 9 PM (ET) on ESPN, and Kansas is listed as 5½ point chalk after initially going out -5. The first total to show up on SBR's live NCAA Basketball odds was 139.
This will be the 207th time the Jayhawks and Sooners have tangled on the hardwood, Kansas winning the past two and owning a 141-65 record vs. Oklahoma. The Sooners will be looking for their first win in Lawrence in more than 20 years, a string of 13 consecutive KU victories during that span. The teams split covers in the two meetings a season ago, each side grabbing the cash on the road, and the last three clashes were winners for 'over' bettors.
Sooners Facing Rough Week On The Road
Lon Kruger and Oklahoma (12-5 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) aren't going to have much sympathy for Kansas' current schedule since the Sooners are in the throes of a 4-game stretch against ranked opponents as well. They are also facing a second roadie this week with a trip to meet Baylor on Saturday.
Something of a dark horse in the conference race when the season began at +650 on the NCAA futures odds, Oklahoma just stopped a 2-game skid this past weekend with an 82-65 decision vs. Oklahoma State. The Sooners had their best offensive performance in nearly a month to easily cover a -6½ number, Buddy Hield leading the way with a perfect 10-for-10 from the field, 27-point performance.
Hield also led the way in the turnover column with six of OU's 17 blunders. That's going to have to improve for the Sooners who rank seventh in the Big 12 averaging 13.3 turnovers per game.
Jayhawks 3rd In RPI Despite Loss To Cyclones
Kansas (14-3 SU, 10-6 ATS) got caught in an up-tempo game at Iowa State this past Saturday, and failed to keep pace until a late push made the 86-81 final in favor of the Cyclones seem closer than it was. A 6-man ISU rotation ran circles around the Jayhawks to snap a 5-game run for KU both straight-up and against the spread.
The setback in Ames will drop Kansas out of the top 10 in the AP and coaches polls, though the Jayhawks remain No. 3 in the latest RPI rankings. Being at home should help them begin a new win streak; the Jayhawks are 8-0 this season at Allen Fieldhouse -- 9-0 when you throw in a home matchup in Kansas City -- and have covered five of their seven lined affairs in Lawrence.
Both teams are very proficient on the glass and among the better free-throw shooting teams in the country. I'll be curious to see if the early total holds, and lean a bit to the 'under' if it was to climb into the low-140s. I'm also curious to see how Jayhawk guards deal with OU's Hield, and my gut says they will deal with him well with a NCAA Basketball pick on home chalk.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -5.5
Season: 20-26 (-8.60)