Kansas vs UCF Odds, Pick for Wednesday

Kansas vs UCF Odds, Pick for Wednesday article feature image

Via Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Hunter Dickinson #1 of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts after scoring the final basket during the 2nd half against the TCU Horned Frogs as the Jayhawks defeat the Horned Frogs 83-81 to win the game at Allen Fieldhouse on January 06, 2024 in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Kansas vs UCF Odds, Pick

Wednesday, Jan. 10
7 p.m. ET
Kansas Odds
-110o / -110u
UCF Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

UCF is set to host its first Big 12 Conference home game Wednesday night in Orlando. In doing so, the Knights will face the team that has been historically the Big 12's best in the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Jayhawks are on track for another No. 1 seed while the Knights are still in search of a win that they can truly hang their hat on this season. UCF will hope to catch Kansas in a lull in a tough midweek travel spot from Lawrence all the way to Orlando.

Kansas Jayhawks

Among the new Big 12 teams (Houston, BYU and Cincinnati are the others), UCF is seemingly the weakest of the four this year.

Coach Bill Self sweated out another late victory in the Phog over TCU on Saturday afternoon. Officiating was once again a subject for discussion after the Jayhawks survived late. Hunter Dickinson caught an elbow in the final minute after former Jayhawk Ernest Udeh Jr. came away with a steal, which led to a flagrant one foul.

Dickinson converted both free throws prior to DaJuan Harris converting on a floater to take Kansas from down two points to a two-point lead, and the Jayhawks went on to win by two.

The recurring storyline for Kansas this year has been their reliance on the "core four" players. While their other rotation players have continued to struggle to emerge, Hunter Dickinson, KJ Adams, Kevin McCullar and DaJuan Harris have shouldered the load.

With Harris being a reluctant shooter/scorer, Dickinson, Adams and McCullar have had to score frequently for the Jayhawks to have success. The sustainability of placing such a heavy burden on just a few players is a major concern for Kansas going forward.

Nonetheless, Self is known for trimming his bench and rotations by the time postseason play rolls around. At least two to three of his bench players will need to assert themselves if this team wants a chance to reach its National Championship ceiling. The Big 12 schedule is a gauntlet of incredibly tough games, potentially making this game against UCF the best opportunity for Self to give his bench some minutes while still focusing on winning.

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UCF Knights

UCF has struggled in the nonconference portion of its schedule as it lost to all three top-100 opponents and 190th-ranked Stetson, per Kenpom. Unfortunately, if the 25-point drubbing UCF suffered at Kansas St. on Saturday is any indication, they will struggle mightily in the best conference in college basketball.

The biggest area of weakness for UCF has been consistent scoring. In the Knights' three games against top-100 opponents, they have scored 72, 68 and 52 points in those respective games. Considering 12 of their 13 Big 12 opponents are in the top 100 of the NET, coach Johnny Dawkins will be challenged to find consistent scoring quickly.

Junior starting guards Darius Johnson and Ball-St. transfer Jaylin Sellers are playing their first season together. They are both valuable in different ways for Johnny Dawkins. Johnson is the court general as the team's best passer and is also a much more capable perimeter shooter than Sellers. Sellers is a strong defender and rebounder who relies on his quickness and athleticism to drive past defenders and score at the rim.

For Kansas, Harris, Elmarko Jackson and McCullar are all above-average defenders who prefer to switch when opponents attempt ball screens. Sellers and Johnson will have their most difficult offensive challenge in trying to put up enough points to stay in this game against another great Kansas defense that ranks seventh in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.

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Kansas vs. UCF

Betting Pick & Prediction

Considering UCF managed only 52 points against Kansas St., one would assume the Knights are not flowing with confidence and momentum offensively.

Kansas has also had offensive lulls and challenges from time to time throughout the year. The Jayhawks' highest scoring totals have come only when facing much weaker competition or a team known for playing at a fast pace (see: Kentucky, TCU, Wichita St.).

Kansas will struggle to score for periods of this game while Self experiments with new rotations to develop his bench. Dawkins is a capable coach who will certainly have a plan for limiting Dickinson inside as well. Look for Kansas to win this game with its defense by limiting UCF's scoring much like Kansas St. just did in Manhattan. Take the under at 143.5 down to 141.

Pick: Under 143.5 (Play to 141)

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Sean Treppedi
Apr 12, 2024 UTC