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Jalen Wilson of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts in the second half of the game against the Creighton Bluejays.
Jalen Wilson of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts in the second half of the game against the Creighton Bluejays. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP.

Fading the public’s opinion of the Providence Friars worked in both games last week, so why stop now? Here are our Providence-Kansas March Madness odds and picks.

Among Friday's March Madness Sweet 16 action is a Midwest Region showdown between the No. 1-seed Kansas Jayhawks and the fourth-seed Providence Friars. The latter dispatched South Dakota State on Thursday and followed that up with a blowout win against Richmond two days later. As a result, the Big East regular-season champs are Sweet 16 bound. What Providence lacks in talent, it makes up for with experience, grit, and team continuity.

Meanwhile, Kansas throttled No. 16-seed Texas Southern in the first round before getting past a pesky Creighton team. After winning both the regular-season and tournament titles in a Big 12 Conference that was likely the strongest in the country, Kansas has its sights set on national prominence.

Here are my picks and predictions for Friday’s March Madness matchup between Providence and Kansas (odds via BetMGM; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

SEE ALSO: March Madness Odds and Picks

Providence vs. Kansas Game Info

Date: Friday, March 24, 7:29 p.m. ETTV: TBSLocation: United Center, Chicago, IL

Providence vs. Kansas Odds Analysis

Oddsmakers initially opened the point spread favoring Kansas by eight. That number was gobbled up, and the market consensus now sits at Kansas -7.5.

The total has also experienced a half-point move following an opening number of 142. The vast majority of sportsbooks are now listing the Over/Under at 141.5 for Friday’s contest.

Providence is actually shaping up to be a publicly backed underdog. At the time of writing, 65% of public spread bets are on the Friars catching points. In addition, a whopping 81% of total bets are backing the Over.

SEE ALSO: March Madness Betting Guide

Providence vs. Kansas Picks

Kansas -7.5 (-110) ??Under 141.5 (-110) ???

Providence vs. Kansas Predictions

Kansas -7.5 (-110)

Providence has been counted out for both of its March Madness games thus far. But after beating No. 12-seed Richmond by 28 points, the public is willing to back the Friars as underdogs against a loaded Kansas team.

Though wins against South Dakota State and Richmond can't be dismissed, the Friars are set for a steep uptick in competition against Kansas. In terms of experience, this Jayhawks team has more of it than any in recent memory.

Providence will be hard-pressed to come up with a defensive answer for Jayhawks star guard Ochai Agbaji. He actually finished below his 19.3 points per game average in two contests last week, but the fact that Kansas still rolled to victory in both shows how deep and versatile Bill Self’s team is. KenPom ranks Kansas sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Jayhawks have averaged 119.5 points per 100 possessions this season.

The Friars are in for a much tougher personnel matchup in the post, as well. Though Providence's bigs had a physicality advantage in the previous two contests, that won’t be the case against Kansas’ Jalen Wilson and David McCormick. Head coach Ed Cooley will struggle to find the frontcourt depth to match up with Kansas' bigs for a full 40 minutes.

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Under 141.5 (-110)

According to KenPom, Kansas averaged the 64th-fastest adjusted tempo this season with 69.4 possessions per 40 minutes. Providence came nowhere close to that, with an average of only 65.1 possessions per 40 minutes that ranked 283rd in the country.

It's also quite difficult to envision the Friars hold up their end of the bargain on the scoreboard to push this total Over.

Like the Jayhawks, Providence is efficient on the offensive end of the floor, but game totals haven't increased due to its slow pace.

Providence is incapable of winning a shootout against an electric and versatile Kansas offense. Bettors should anticipate an even greater emphasis from the Friars to slow the tempo of this matchup. An ugly, half-court game is just how they want this to play out.

The Friars' first-round matchup against a South Dakota State team that averaged an even faster pace than Kansas had a total that closed in the mid-150s. That game featured only 123 total points. This one could go Under even that number.

Where to Bet on March Madness

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

FanDuel SportsbookCaesars SportsbookDraftKings SportsbookPointsBetBetMGM

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March Madness odds and best bets made 3/22/2022 at 1:09 p.m. ET.