#2 Kansas Jayhawks at #4 Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday, January 28, 2017, 6:15 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Kentucky
Opening Line: Kentucky -7
Current Line: Kentucky -7
Opening Total: 171
Current Total: 168
Opening Money Line: Kentucky -320 / Kansas +255
Current Money Line: Kentucky -320 / Kansas +255
On Wednesday night, three of the top four teams in college basketball all lost on the road. The Villanova Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats all lost tough conference games. At least one of those teams will lose another game as #2 Kansas travels to #4 Kentucky Saturday as part of the Big 12/SEC challenge.
These are two of the premier programs in college basketball. Kentucky leads the series 22-7 against Kansas, including 7-1 in Lexington. The Jayhawks won 90-84 in Lawrence last year in overtime.
Kansas is 18-2 this season and coached by Bill Self. Kansas is 7-1 and tied for first in the Big 12 with Baylor. The Jayhawks have losses to Indiana in Hawaii and West Virginia 85-69 in Morgantown Wednesday night. The loss snapped an 18 game winning streak for the Jayhawks. Kansas has neutral site wins over Duke in New York City, UAB, Georgia and Davidson in Kansas City, plus home wins over Long Beach State, Stanford, Nebraska, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas. Kansas has road wins at UNLV, TCU, Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Jayhawks are 6-12 ATS and the total is 8-10 this season. Kansas was a 3.5 point underdog at West Virginia and the total was 158.5.
Kentucky is coached by John Calipari. The Wildcats are 17-3 and in first place in the SEC at 7-1, a half game ahead of 6-1 South Carolina. Kentucky has a home loss to UCLA, plus road losses to Louisville and Tennessee 82-80 Wednesday. The Wildcats have neutral site wins over Michigan State in New York City, Arizona State in the Bahamas, Hofstra in Brooklyn, and North Carolina in Las Vegas. Kentucky has home wins over Stephen F. Austin, Duquesne, Cleveland State, Valparaiso, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Auburn, and South Carolina. The Wildcats have road wins over Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Kentucky is 12-8 ATS and the total is 13-7 this season. The Wildcats were 10.5 point favorites against Tennessee and the total was 167.
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Kansas is out scoring teams 85-71 this season. The Jayhawks are #16 in scoring nationally. Kansas is shooting 49.8% from the field and 41.8% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #10 in field goal percentage and #7 in three point shooting nationally. Kansas makes 63.2% of their free throws. They are #334 in the country and it is the only glaring weakness for the Jayhawks. Opponents are shooting 41% from the field and 35.4% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks average 40.2 rebounds a game and opponents average 31.4 per game. Kansas is #18 in rebounding nationally. The Jayhawks average 17.5 assists, 12.9 turnovers, 7.1 steals and 5 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.7 assists, 13.3 turnovers, 6.6 steals and 3.6 blocks per game.
Guard Frank Mason III averages 19.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Guard Josh Jackson averages 15.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Devonte’ Graham averages 13.7 points, 3 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk averages 10.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1 steal a game. Lagerald Vick averages 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Landen Lucas averages 7.3 points and 8 rebounds a game. Forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (suspension) and center Udoka Azubuike (wrist) are both out indefinitely.
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Kentucky is outscoring teams 92-73 this season. Kentucky is #2 in scoring nationally. The Wildcats are shooting 49.6% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #13 in field goal percentage. Kentucky makes 69.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.7% from the field and 30.9% from three point range. The Wildcats are #30 in three point defense nationally. Kentucky averages 41 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.9. Kentucky is #12 in rebounding nationally. The Wildcats average 17.8 assists, 11.5 turnovers, 6.4 steals and 6.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.6 assists, 15.8 turnovers, 4.8 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.
Malik Monk averages 21.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. De’Aaron Fox averages 16.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Isaiah Briscoe averages 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Edrice Adebayo averages 13.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Derek Willis averages 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Mychal Mulder is out until early February with an illness.
Kansas is 14-6 after a straight up loss, 9-4 after failing to cover, 3-7 against SEC teams, 2-5 in Saturday games, 3-8 against teams with winning records, 1-4 in road games, overall, and against teams with winning home records. The under is 5-2 in this series recently including 4-0 in Lexington.
Kentucky is 5-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 7-2 after failing to cover, 21-7 at home and as a home favorite, 12-4 against teams with winning road records, 7-3 in non-conference games, 1-4 as a favorite, against teams with winning records, and overall. The favorite and home team are both 6-0 ATS in this series recently.
This should be a high scoring game with two of the best offenses in the country. Neither team is spectacular on defense either. This could be preview of a late March or early April contest. I like Kentucky to win a close game at Rupp Arena.