Odds & Pick for Kansas vs. Oklahoma State Basketball: Bet the Jayhawks as Road Favorites
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0).
- The Kansas Jayhawks travel to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys of Oklahoma State in Tuesday night Big 12 conference play.
- KU is one week removed from its 25-point loss to Texas, but the Jayhawks have responded with two consecutive wins against TCU and Oklahoma.
- Below, find Pat McMahon's college basketball betting guide for Kansas vs. Oklahoma State, including why he's backing Rock Chalk Jayhawk to build on its road success against the Cowboys.
Kansas vs. Oklahoma State Odds
The Kansas Jayhawks head to Stillwater, Oklahoma for a tough road test against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Tuesday evening. After getting blown out by Texas at home on January 2, Kansas rebounded in a big way last week by blowing out TCU on the road — then taking care of business at home against Oklahoma.
The Cowboys present a touch challenge, featuring projected top draft pick Cade Cunningham and the ultra-tough junior Isaac Likekele manning the backcourt. With a 2-3 conference record, Oklahoma State doesn’t want to fall further down the Big 12 standings. Facing the Jayhawks at home presents a huge opportunity for a resume-building win that will look great in March if the Cowboys’ NCAA tournament ban appeal is approved.
The talent level on the court in Stillwater will be incredibly high on Tuesday night. Both teams are particularly strong on the defensive end and excel at preventing the opposition from running its offense effectively. Whichever team figures out a way to execute with consistency on offense will likely come out on top.
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
Despite being less experienced than last year’s squad, the Oklahoma State offense has improved from last season. Per KenPom, the Cowboys ranked 84th in adjusted offensive efficiency last season, but they are up to 53rd this season.
Obviously, bringing in the nation’s top-ranked recruit (Cunningham) is going to help out any team’s offense. But with just one starter returning from last year, it would’ve been understandable to see the Cowboys’ offensive production take a dip.
A major reason the Cowboys have improved is that they are actually a deeper team this year despite the heavy personnel losses: Nine players averaging 14 or more minutes per game. The roster includes a nice mix of veterans and young players.
In addition to Cunningham, two fellow freshman, Rondel Walker and Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, are making big impacts in Stillwater. A trio of sophomores in Avery Anderson III and brothers Kalib and Keylan Boone have stepped into larger roles and are making significant contributions on both ends of the floor.
The Cowboys backcourt has also received a boost from a pair of veteran transfers, Ferron Flavors Jr. (Cal-Baptist) and Bryce Williams (Ole Miss). Both players are capable scorers and can give the Cowboys a lift when their stars are struggling.
One area the Cowboys have not been great in this season is 3-point shooting. They’re hitting 31.6% from 3 as a team, which ranks ninth out of 10 teams in the Big 12.
Cunningham and Williams have the most attempts and have been solid, with both hitting above 36%. The rest of the team is less reliable from distance, which is bad news when the Cowboys face a strong defense. Even though Likekele has hit five of his 11 attempts this season, he is not comfortable shooting the 3. Opposing defenses often pack it against him, almost daring him to pull the trigger from deep.
Likekele not being much of a threat from the outside puts a lot of additional pressure on Cunningham — and if Cunningham is struggling from the field, then it’s tough for the Cowboys offense to get into a rhythm.
Kansas boasts an elite defense, ranking eighth nationally in defensive efficiency. Much of the Jayhawks’ defensive success can be attributed to their pair of elite perimeter defenders, Marcus Garrett and Ochai Agbaji.
Garrett is the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year. He hounds opposing point guards and leads the team in steals despite missing a game. Agbaji’s defense isn’t discussed as frequently as Garrett’s, but he’s been terrific throughout his career and has tremendous versatility. He can guard the 1-4 positions without missing a beat.
Having this duo in the backcourt is a huge plus in this matchup given Oklahoma State’s heavy reliance on their perimeter offense. Look for Kansas to try to get the ball out of Cunningham’s hands and force his supporting cast to beat them.
When Kansas Has the Ball
Despite also losing some of their top talent from a year ago, the Jayhawks are still looking sharp offensively. The Kansas offense ranks 16th in efficiency, and the Jayhawks are posting just under 77 points per game. Kansas is only shooting 44% from the field but is lighting up from 3-point range (37%).
Agbaji has shown significant improvement as a shooter (42.5% from 3); and as a result, he has upped his scoring by nearly five points per game year over year (10.0 to 14.8). Christian Braun is a big-time shooter and has taken advantage of more playing time as a sophomore, averaging 10.5 points per game on 38% 3-point shooting.
The Jayhawks have a couple of quality scoring options inside as well, beginning with forward Jalen Wilson. Wilson’s emergence as a go-to scorer caught the college basketball world by surprise. After only suiting up in two games last season, Wilson earned his way into the starting lineup and is posting 14.7 points and a team-best 8.1 rebounds per game. Wilson’s ability to score inside and out makes him a difficult matchup for most forwards.
David McCormack is the fourth Jayhawk averaging double figures. His production has helped ease the loss of Udoka Azubuike, but the Jayhawks need him to be more efficient in the post. McCormack is making just 44% of his field goal attempts.
Oklahoma State also fields a very strong defense, ranking 28th in defensive efficiency. The Cowboys are holding opponents to an impressive 39.8% shooting from the floor.
They have a defensive ace on the perimeter of their own in Likekele. Likekele’s blend of strength and quickness enables him to excel at pressuring opposing guards. He typically covers the opponent’s top ball-handler, with the goal of making it difficult for them to run their offense and get into a flow.
Betting Analysis & Pick
From a matchup perspective, I think Kansas has an edge here thanks to their perimeter defense. The Cowboys rely on Cunningham so much — and while he has other talent surrounding him — I don’t think it’ll be enough to overcome the Jayhawks half-court pressure.
This line opened up around Kansas -3 at most books but is starting to climb across the betting market. The Jayhawks’ lackluster performance against a shorthanded Oklahoma team on Saturday may have caused some recency bias in the opening spread. Kansas has been a great road team in recent years, and has started off 2-0 straight up and against the spread on the road this season.
I like the Jayhawks’ road dominance to continue in Stillwater, where their defense should carry them to a comfortable victory.
Pick: Kansas (-3) | Play up to -5