Missouri vs Kansas Odds, Pick for Saturday

Missouri vs Kansas Odds, Pick for Saturday article feature image

Pictured: Hunter Dickinson. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Missouri vs Kansas Odds

Saturday, Dec. 9
5:15 p.m. ET
Missouri Odds
-115o / -105u
Kansas Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAB odds here.

The "Border War" between Missouri and Kansas returns to Lawrence on Saturday night. Kansas has throttled Mizzou is each of the past two years, winning by a combined margin of 65 points.

Will things be different this season? Here's Missouri vs Kansas odds and a pick for Saturday.

Missouri Tigers

Missouri and its fans received a jolt of energy this spring when coach Dennis Gates led his team to an NCAA tournament victory. In beating Utah St., the Tigers captured their first win in the NCAA Tournament since beating Clemson in 2010.

Unfortunately, Tigers' fans found out early that this year's team is missing a significant portion of what made it successful last year. Kobe Brown was clearly Missouri's best player last season and was ultimately drafted by the Clippers. D'Moi Hodge and DeAndre Gholston also departed after being key veteran leaders.

The roster turnover led to some shaky early season performances. Gates has admitted that he's still struggling to find efficient rotations. Mixing the newcomers with returning key pieces — Nick Honor, Noah Carter and Sean East — has been a challenge.

East's quickness gives him the edge to earn Gates' favor. Gates loves his teams to play with tempo and full-court defensive pressure, and East is a leader in establishing that identity.

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Kansas Jayhawks

If Missouri's goal is to speed Kansas up and increase the possession count in this game, the Jayhawks will happily oblige. No, Kansas doesn't have a depth advantage over Missouri as depth has actually been a knock on Kansas when projecting its ability to win a national championship. In this game, however, I would expect Bill Self to play DaJuan Harris Jr. for 40 minutes if necessary.

The downside of full-court pressure is the five-on-four advantages that are often created once the pressure is broken. Kansas will be happy to see pressure, trusting its ability to avoid turnovers and take advantage of the easy baskets that result from having a man advantage.

The Jayhawks lead the country in assists through nine games. Kevin McCullar Jr. and Hunter Dickinson have played at an All-American level, yet neither are selfish scorers. McCullar and Dickinson are willing passers who emphasize making the right play.

Harris is clearly the best passer on the team. Harris' passiveness is well-documented, especially by his coach. On multiple occasions, Self has called Harris the best player on the court in press conferences after games in which Harris didn't score. In years past, Kansas has had a plethora of offensive weapons who allowed Harris to thrive in a passive role. This year, Self has challenged Harris to score more as Kansas doesn't have as much firepower.

Kansas' success this year will likely depend upon Self's ability to find a fifth and sixth player to go with the core of Dickinson, Harris, McCullar and KJ Adams. Much like Missouri, Kansas has struggled to solidify its rotation. Elmarko Jackson has been given the nod as the fifth starter thus far, but hasn't truly seized the opportunity to solidify that spot. Johnny Furphy has also played significant minutes and is likely the most raw athlete of all the options. However, Furphy's defensive efforts will need to improve if he's going to earn crunch-time minutes.

The best unit on the court will be Kansas' defense. Ranked seventh in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, the Jayhawks boast a reliable defense and should stifle Missouri.

Missouri vs. Kansas

Betting Pick & Prediction

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Despite losing to Jackson St. at home and struggling with SC State, Missouri has responded admirably with four consecutive wins.

Kansas looked sluggish Tuesday night against Kansas City, but after handing defending national champion UConn its first loss of the year, and with Missouri coming to town next, the Jayhawks' effort against Kansas City makes some sense.

Kansas has dominated the past two games against Missouri and is always motivated to do so. Even Kansas' bench will put forth a maximum effort if called upon to close this one out. Take Kansas to hold Missouri under it team total and trust Kansas to prove its prowess yet again.

Pick: Missouri Team Total Under 64.5 (Play to 63)

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