College Basketball Odds & Picks for Kansas vs. Texas: Bet the Jayhawks In Big 12 Battle
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Kansas star Ochai Agbaji.
Kansas vs. Texas Odds
|Kansas Odds||-4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Texas Odds||+4.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-205 / +172 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||138.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
Texas head coach Shaka Smart enters his sixth season again, but remains of the Longhorns’ hot seat. Always a brilliant recruiter, Smart has struggled to move the program forward, putting together a combined record of just 41-50 in Big 12 conference play.
The Longhorns open the calendar year against Kansas, a team Smart has beaten just once in 10 tries during his Texas coaching tenure. The Jayhawks have been especially dominant at home in Lawrence, winning the last five games by an average of 12.4 points.
Is Texas a legitimate contender in the Big Ten race or are they still chasing Bill Self’s Kansas team?
There are many similarities between these Big 12 rivals. Defensively, both rank among the nation’s elite. The Longhorns have held five of their last six opponents under 69 points, while the Jayhawks have held limited two of their past three opponents to 57 points or less.
Both teams are superior on the offensive glass, with Kansas (13.8) and (11.8) both collecting 11 second-chance opportunities per game.
The bellwether for the Longhorns’ offense is freshman forward Greg Brown, who had a season-high 24 points and 14 rebounds in a 77-74 home win over Oklahoma State.
Brown’s 3-point shooting has improved the past three games, shooting a combined 38% (8-of-21) from beyond the arc. Also active on defense, Brown has eight total blocks during that span as well.
Smart will surround Brown with a trio of veteran guards in junior Courtney Ramey, senior Matt Coleman and junior Andrew Jones. Ramey and Jones are shooting a combined 40.5% (30 of 74) from behind the three-point arc.
The problem for Texas is that Kansas matches up perfectly with it. The Jayhawks have a trio of versatile wings in Ochai Agbaji (14.8 ppg), Jalen Wilson (14.6 ppg), and Marcus Garrett (9.4 ppg). All three players average double figures in scoring and at least five rebounds per game.
Kansas also stretches the opposing defenses, with superior three-point shooting from multiple players. Wilson (38.1%) and Garrett (42.1%) are solid, while Agbaji (44.4%) and sophomore Christian Braun (43.1%) have been superior.
The Longhorns are strong at defending the three-point shot (allowing just 27% from deep), but facing Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse is a much harder challenge. The Jayhawks shot a blistering 43% (16-of-37) from beyond the arc at home against a West Virginia team that ranks among the best three-point defenses in the country.
The Jayhawks have also received a surprising boost from the strong interior efficiency of junior David McCormack. The 6-foot-10 big man has two double-doubles in the past three games, and has avoided critical foul trouble throughout the season.
McCormack has only tallied three or more fouls twice in nine games, and has yet to foul out of any contest. Against West Virginia’s elite 6-foot-10 forward Derek Culver, he posted an impressive 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Betting Analysis & Pick
While Texas (7-1) has gotten off to a great start, it’s worth noting it was 9-1 last year before losing four of its first six conference games.
I also question the quality of the Longhorns’ wins against teams earlier in the season. Its two-point neutral-court wins over a mediocre defensive Davidson team and a now 5-4 North Carolina team look much less impressive.
In contrast, Kansas is more battle-tested against Gonzaga, Creighton, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
Bottom line, this is a “prove it” spot with the Longhorns. Texas is 1-9 against Kansas during Shaka’s tenure with seven losses by nine points or more. The line opened at Kansas -4 based on metrics, and I expect it to quickly rise.
I’m taking the Jayhawks to cover at home against a Longhorns team playing their first true road game of the season, facing a group players that already has a 58-57 true road win against Texas Tech.
Pick: Kansas -4.5 (Play up to Kansas -5.5).