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Kansas vs. Eastern Washington Betting Odds: Opening Spread, Pick For 2021 NCAA Tournament

Kansas vs. Eastern Washington Betting Odds: Opening Spread, Pick For 2021 NCAA Tournament article feature image

Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Ochai Agbaji of the Kansas Jayhawks.

  • Kansas is a big favorite over Eastern Washington in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
  • But nobody should want to face EWU right now, as the Eagles play at a fast pace and can shoot with just about anybody.
  • While we project this spread about the same as sportsbooks, keep an eye on Kansas personnel news, as the Jayhawks had COVID issues last week.

#3 Kansas vs. #14 Eastern Washington Odds

Eastern Washington Odds+11.5
Kansas Odds-11.5
TimeSaturday, 1:15 p.m. ET
Odds as of Sunday night and via DraftKings

How Kansas & Eastern Washington Match Up

Eastern Washington
All stats via KenPom.

Kansas vs. EWU Instant Analysis

Eastern Washington is a team nobody wants to play right now and Kansas is going to have its hands full. The Eagles play an incredibly fast tempo (28th in Adj. Tempo per KenPom) and have been shooting teams right out of the gym. Eastern Washington has won 13 of its last 14 games and did come within three points of both Washington State and Arizona at the beginning of the season.

Kansas will presumably get David McCormack back, but the Jayhawks still have some COVID issues that caused them to bow out of the Big 12 Tournament. It’s still unclear who will be available for Kansas, so this is a potential upset spot since Kansas isn’t elite offensively, ranking 59th in offensive efficiency.

I have the Jayhawks projected as a -11.03 favorite in this one, but keep an eye on them all week long as we start to get more news about who is or isn’t available to play. — BJ Cunningham

What To Know About Kansas

After a rocky period in January, the Jayhawks turned a corner. The main reason was the improvement of David McCormack's play. The junior big man looked overwhelmed by his increased role early in the season. In Kansas’ first 15 games, he was scoring 11.5 points and 9.4 field goal attempts per game, while shooting only 45.4% from the field. Kansas fans and critics were clamoring for McCormack’s minutes to shrink in favor of small-ball lineups.

He responded to the tune of 15.8 points on 11.4 field-goal attempts and 57% field goal shooting. McCormack’s development has opened things for all of his teammates on the perimeter as well. That said, the defense carries the weight for the Jayhawks. They are downright stingy on that end led by one of the best on-ball defenders in the country in Marcus Garrett.

McCormack was one of two Jayhawks ruled out of the Big 12 Tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, but the team said it hopes to have him back for the start of the NCAA Tournament. If fully healthy, the defense will keep them in any game but the question is can Kansas get a dominant McCormack on the interior to go along with consistent outside shooting? Bill Self won't go down without a fight, but it feels like this team is a year away. — Shane McNichol

What To Know About Eastern Washington

The Big Sky champions have won 13-of-14 since mid-January and have the formula to make some noise in the dance. The post play of Tanner Grovers and perimeter shooting of Tyler Robertson is a fantastic one-two punch that may surprise. On top of this being one of the most dangerous offenses in the tournament, the Eagles are sixth in the nation in free-throw shooting percentage. Head coach Shantay Legans preferes a faster pace as Eastern Washington is 28th in tempo.

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The biggest issue for the Eagles is turnover rate on the defensive side of the ball. Eastern Washinton is outside the top 300 in takeaways, making it tough for the Eagles to generate instant offense. An opponent that wants to run tempo but does not have respectable defensive metrics would be a prime upset target for Eastern Washington. Any opponent that has great ball security, controls tempo and runs a great pick and roll may impact Eastern Washington's chance of an upset. — Collin WIlson

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