Texas vs. Kansas Odds, Predictions: Your Betting Guide for This Big 12 Battle (March 5)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Remy Martin.
Texas vs. Kansas Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
For most of the 21st century, Kansas has held a death grip on the Big 12. Over the last 20 seasons, Kansas has collected 13 outright Big 12 titles, shared four more, and only failed to finish atop the conference standings three times.
Some of that dominance came because the rest of the Big 12 failed to live up to its potential. For most of the 2000s, the Big 12 was a middle-of-the-road power conference.
When conference realignment shifted the landscape, the Big 12 lost Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M while picking up TCU and West Virginia.
The conference has been better off, finishing in the top three nationally, per KenPom, every year since that shift. The Big 12 has been the best conference in America by KenPom’s standards in seven of the last nine years, including this season.
This season, Kansas has a chance to once again share the conference championship, but it likely needs a win over a tough Texas team to remain in the running.
Chris Beard’s cast of transfers is beginning to gel and look like a tough team to face in March. Kansas may need the magic of Phog Allen Fieldhouse to send the Longhorns back to Austin with a loss.
In the preseason, this Texas team served as a Rorschach test for those who follow college basketball.
There were a variety of questions surrounding this program that had differing answers depending on your perspective.
Could a team built primarily of transfer talent coalesce in a few months? Would Marcus Carr continue to be as inefficient as he was or Minnesota, or would he turn a corner with superior teammates and coaching? Did new head coach Chris Beard have the kind of impact that could elevate a program right away?
Entering March, some of those questions are starting to have answers. Beard’s defensive scheme has taken effect right away, with the Longhorns in the top 20 in defensive efficiency and in the top 10 in turnover rate forced.
The transfers have begun to settle into roles, meshing with the returning members of the Longhorns’ roster from last season. It hurt when UMass transfer Tre Mitchell left the program for a personal leave of absence, but Texas is learning to replace his production on the fly.
The questions about Carr have proven themselves to be fair critiques. Now at his third school, Carr is a volume shooter at nearly 10 attempts per game, but his efficiency on those attempts is lacking.
Carr is shooting under 40% from the floor and taking only 3.4 free throws per game. According to data from Hoop-Math, only 18% of his shots come at the rim, in favor of unassisted 2-point jump shots and 3-pointers (which he shoots at a below-average percentage).
When Carr isn’t able to spark the offense, the Longhorns can stall out. In a home loss to Texas Tech in late February, Carr shot 0-of-6 from the field, did not attempt a free throw and had four turnovers, leaving the rest of the Texas offense spinning its wheels.
When Carr isn’t effective, Texas turns to Utah transfer Timmy Allen to attack mismatches on the interior. Especially with Mitchell gone, Allen’s role will expand. He has played 34 or more minutes in each of Texas’ last three games, after cracking that threshold just once in its first 13 games.
On paper, there’s no cause for concern for Kansas fans as March rolls on. This team is 24-6 with a real chance to win the Big 12 regular season and earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Scratch beneath the surface, and there are a lot of red flags popping up. For the most part, the issues have come in the form of lineup questions.
Bill Self’s rotations have become like a chess game, well after the first move. He still has some great pieces, but he also has some others he’s not sure how to handle.
Arizona State transfer Remy Martin, expected to be a star in Lawrence, has been dinged up and underwhelming. He has completely ceded his spot in the starting (and more critically the closing) lineup to sophomore Dajuan Harris. Martin has a higher upside in theory, yet in practice, Kansas has performed better with Harris on the floor.
Kansas has a better assist rate, 3-point percentage, and field goal percentage at the rim when Harris is running the show, according to on/off data from Hoop Explorer. Harris is more liable to turn the ball over, yet he’s also a superior defender.
On the interior, Self has shuffled the back-up bigs in his rotation looking for something to spark.
Freshman KJ Adams adds some needed athleticism. Nearly 25-year-old sixth-year senior Mitch Lightfoot has a coach’s brain on the court, yet is physically limited. Freshman Zach Clemence likely offers the most versatile option, but Self clearly doesn’t trust him yet.
Compared to most teams, this is not a big problem. Among five-man lineups that have played at least 225 possessions together on each side of the ball, Kansas’ best five (which includes both Harris and Martin) is the third-best group in the country, per EvanMiya’s lineup data.
Swap in Jalen Wilson for Remy Martin, and Kansas’ second-best lineup is still top-12 in the country, making the Jayhawks the only team placing two teams in the top 60 of those rankings.
The Jayhawks’ five best are still good enough for a deep run in March, and everything else is on the margins. Recent losses at Baylor and TCU shouldn’t obscure this team’s ceiling.
Texas vs. Kansas Betting Pick
The key stat to watch in this game is the Jayhawks’ turnover total. In the first meeting in Austin, a Texas win, Kansas coughed the ball up 15 times. With the Longhorns committing just six turnovers that night, Texas was able to take advantage of extra possessions and attempt 19 more field goals than Kansas.
Harris will be the main player to watch in this regard. If he can handle the Texas pressure and initiate the Kansas offense, the Jayhawks should be able to find advantages in the half-court.
Playing at home with a chance to clinch a share of the Big 12 title, it’s hard to pick against Kansas. Texas has not been particularly strong on the road, going just 3-8 against the spread this season in away games.
In front of a rocking crowd on Senior Day, I’ll back Kansas to cover.
Pick: Kansas -6
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