Big 12 College Basketball Picks: #9 Oklahoma State Cowboys at #15 Kansas Jayhawks

#9 Oklahoma State Cowboys at #15 Kansas Jayhawks
Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, Kansas

Saturday, January 18, 2014, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Kansas -5
Current Line: Kansas -5 1/2
Opening Total: 150 1/2
Current Total: 149 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas -260 / Oklahoma State +215
Current Money Line: Kansas -245 / Oklahoma State +205

Kansas is a 5.5 point favorite at home against Oklahoma State Saturday in a battle for first place in the Big 12.

Kansas is a 5.5 point favorite at home against Oklahoma State Saturday in a battle for first place in the Big 12.

The 12-4 Kansas Jayhawks and 15-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys meet Saturday in Lawrence with first place in the Big 12 on the line. Kansas leads the conference at 3-0 by a half game over 3-1 Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Kansas leads the series against Oklahoma State 107-54 including 57-11 in Lawrence.  The two schools split the two meetings last season with each winning on the road. The Cowboys won in Lawrence 85-80 for the first time since 1989, while the Jayhawks won 68-67 in double overtime in Stillwater. The two schools will meet again March 1 in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State is coached by Travis Ford. The Cowboys have losses to Memphis in a tournament in Orlando and at Kansas State in the Big 12 opener. Both losses were by 5 points or less.  OSU has key wins over Memphis at home, at South Florida, over Purdue and Butler in the tournament in Orlando, South Carolina in Stillwater, Louisiana Tech in Oklahoma City, Colorado in Las Vegas, Texas, at West Virginia, and Wednesday against TCU 82-50. Oklahoma State has won 3 straight games and 8 of the last 9.  The Cowboys are 7-6 ATS and the total is 7-6 this season.

OSU is outscoring teams 85-65 this season. The Cowboys are #12 in scoring nationally and #48 in points allowed. Oklahoma State shoots 49% from the field and 38.6% from 3 point range. The Cowboys are #17 in field goal percentage and #46 in 3 point shooting nationally. OSU makes 70.8% of their free throws. Cowboy opponents are shooting 37.6% from the field and 28.8% from 3 point range. OSU is #12 in field goal defense and #20 against the three. The Cowboys are averaging 38 rebounds a game and allowing 32.9. Oklahoma State averages 14 assists, 8 steals, 6 blocks, and 10 turnovers per game, and opponents average 10 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks, and 15 turnovers per game.

Oklahoma State has one of the best back-courts in the nation with Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. Smart is projected to be a top five NBA pick in June’s draft. He averages 17.9 points, 505 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.5 steals a game. Brown averages 16.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game. Forward Le’Bryan Nash averages 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Guard Phil Forte III averages 12 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Guard-forward Brian Williams averages 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Stevie Clark averages 6 points, 1.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals a game. Forward-center Kamari Murphy averages 5.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Forward-Center Michael Cobbins is out for the season with a broken foot. He averages 4.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Kansas is coached by Bill Self. The Jayhawks have losses to Villanova in the Bahamas, at Colorado and Florida, along with a home loss to San Diego State. All four losses are by 6 points or less to teams ranked #21 or higher. Villanova, Florida, and San Diego State are all in the top ten. Kansas has key wins over Duke in Chicago, Wake Forest and UTEP in the Bahamas, New Mexico in Kansas City, plus home wins over Georgetown, Toledo, and Kansas State and road wins at Oklahoma and Iowa State last Monday 77-70. The Jayhawks have won 6 of the last 7 games including 3 straight games. Kansas is 8-8 ATS and the the total is 8-7 this season.

Kansas is outscoring teams 79-69 this season. The Jayhawks are #43 in scoring nationally. Kansas is shooting 50% from the field and 34.7% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #6 nationally in field goal percentage. Kansas makes 68.8% of their free throws. Jayhawk opponents are shooting 40.5% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. Kansas averages 38.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.8. The Jayhawks are #54 or better in both categories. Kansas averages 16 assists, 5 steals, 6 blocks, and 14 turnovers per game, and opponents average 11 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks and 11 turnovers per game.

Freshman guard Andrew Wiggins is also projected to be an NBA lottery pick. Wiggins averages 15.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1 steal per game. Forward Perry Ellis averages 13.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game.  Center Joel Embid averages 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game. Guard Wayne Selden, Jr. averages 10.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Guard Naadir Tharpe averages 9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Frank Mason and Jamari Traylor also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Oklahoma State is 4-9-1 ATS after a cover, 8-19 against teams with winning records, 0-6 in road games, and against teams with winning home records. The road team has covered the last 5 games in this series. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games in the series.

Kansas is 13-3 ATS in Big 12 games, 6-2 against teams with winning road records, 13-5 after a cover, 5-2 against teams with winning records, and overall, and 7-3 in Saturday games.

The young Jayhawks are starting to gel together and living up to the potential of their top 5 pre-season rankings. They lost 4 tough games to four very good teams. The veteran Cowboys struggled at Kansas State but are still a very talented team that will not be intimidated by Allen Fieldhouse. I think 5.5 is too many points, and I like the Cowboys to stay within the number. They have a shot at winning outright.

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