Texas vs. Kansas College Basketball Odds & Pick: Back the Longhorns’ Defense to Shut Down the Jayhawks (Friday, March 12)
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Guard Matt Coleman III #2 of the Texas Longhorns.
Texas vs. Kansas Odds
Texas goes for the rare three-game sweep over Kansas in the Big 12 Semifinals.
The Longhorns were able to squeak by Texas Tech Thursday night, winning 67-66 on late free throws. Texas has now won four games in a row and is getting hot at the right time. They beat Kansas twice during the regular season, so Shaka Smart’s men are well versed in taking down the Jayhawks.
Kansas cruised to a 69-62 quarterfinal victory over Oklahoma last night. The Jayhawks; however, are came into the Big 12 tournament short handed, as one of their best players David McCormack has to miss the tournament due to COVID protocols.
The Jayhawks are teetering between a No. 3, No. 4, or potentially, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, so getting to the Big 12 championship, or winning it, could drastically effect their seeding when the bracket comes out on Sunday.
When Texas has the ball
Texas’ offense was pedestrian against Texas Tech on Thursday night, averaging 1.03 points per possession. The reason they were able to win is because they torched Texas Tech from behind the arc, going 11-of-26 from 3-point range.
However, Texas is a really streaky shooting team, and a lot of its losses are due to poor performances from the field. Even in their second meeting with Kansas this season, they shot below 20% from 3-point range after shooting 46% in the first meeting.
Texas is going to have to shoot a high percentage from 3-point range, because going inside against this Kansas defense is a nightmare. The Jayhawks are the best defense in the Big 12, allowing 0.94 points per possession with elite defense in the paint.
Kansas is holding opponents to below 45% from 2-point range during Big 12 play and teams are making just 56.5% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop-Math. Texas was able to consistently score inside in both meetings against Kansas and now without David McCormack patrolling the paint, it should be even easier for the Longhorns.
When Kansas has the ball
The Jayhawks got out to a big early lead against Oklahoma in the quarterfinals and put it in cruise control for the rest of the game. They were without their best big man David McCormack, but the Jayhawks were still able to score inside consistently, shooting 53% from 2-point range.
However, the Jayhawks have struggled offensively during conference play for two reasons 1) they shoot a low percentage from behind the arc and 2) they aren’t getting to the free throw line consistently.
Their 3-point shooting was a glaring weakness in both losses against Texas this season, as Kansas shot a combined 11-for-47 from 3-point range. However, they were able to get to the free throw line consistently and will have to do so again, since it’s the best way to exploit Texas defensively. The Longhorns allow the third-highest free throw rate in the Big 12, so Kansas will have to rely on a good chunk of their points coming from the free throw line.
Where Kansas is going to struggle scoring is inside, especially without McCormack. Texas allows opponents to shoot just 48% from 2-point range and have a size mismatch with Jericho Sims and Kai Jones. The pair have also led Texas to having the best defensive rebounding percentage in the conference.
It’s going to be really difficult for Kansas to win tonight if they can’t shoot a high percentage from 3-point range or get to the free throw line often.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Even though Kansas was able to beat Oklahoma with David McCormack, Texas is going be a much more difficult test. The Longhorns have a lot more size in the front court and should be able to keep Kansas away from the basket.
Offensively, if Texas can shoot a decent percentage from three point range, while also consistently scoring inside they should be able to move on to the Big 12 Championship game.
With McCormack out, I have Texas projected as a -1.67 favorite, so I think there is some value in the Longhorns moneyline at -115 (DraftKings).
Pick: Texas -115