College Basketball South Region Second Round: #9 Connecticut Huskies vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks

2016 NCAA Tournament
South Region – Second Round
#9 Connecticut Huskies vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, March 19, 2016, 7:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Wells Fargo Arena – Des Moines, Iowa
Opening Line: Kansas -8 (-115)
Current Line: Kansas -8
Opening Total: 139
Current Total: 140
Opening Money Line: Kansas -380 / UConn +315
Current Money Line: Kansas -390 / UConn +320

Kansas and UConn meet in a second round showdown Saturday.
Kansas and UConn meet in a second round showdown Saturday.

The four teams playing in the second round in Des Moines Saturday have combined for 20 national titles. It almost seems like a Final Four with #9 Connecticut playing #1 Kansas in the South Region and #5 Indiana taking on #4 Kentucky in the East region. Connecticut is 25-10 this season out of the American and beat #8 seed Colorado 74-67 in the first round Thursday. Kansas crushed #16 Austin Peay 105-79 in the first round. The winner between Kansas and Connecticut will face either #5 Maryland or #13 Hawaii in the Sweet 16 next week in Louisville. Kansas has won both meetings against UConn with the last game coming in 1997 in Hartford.

UConn is coached by Kevin Ollie. The Huskies finished sixth in the AAC but were the #5 seed in the tournament because SMU wasn’t eligible to compete. The Huskies opened an unlikely run to the championship with a thrilling 104-97 quadruple overtime win over Cincinnati in the quarterfinals that featured a game tying three point buzzer beater by the Huskies from beyond half court at the end of the third overtime. Connecticut beat Temple in the semifinals and Memphis 72-58 in the championship game. UConn is making their 33rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including four national titles the last in 2014. The Huskies missed the tournament last year.

UConn has neutral site losses to Syracuse and Gonzaga in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, and to Maryland in New York City, plus road losses to Tulsa, Temple, Cincinnati, and SMU. The Huskies have home losses to Temple, Houston and Cincinnati. The Huskies have a neutral site win over Michigan in the Bahamas, plus road wins over Texas, Tulane, Houston, Central Florida, Memphis,  and South Florida. UConn has home wins over Ohio State, Memphis, Tulane, Georgetown, East Carolina, Tulsa, SMU and Central Florida. The Huskies were 5-8 against tournament teams this season. UConn is 17-13-1 ATS and the total is 14-16-1 this season. The Huskies were 3.5 point favorites against Colorado and the total was 131.

Kansas is coached by Bill Self. Kansas has gone to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1984 except for 1989. The Jayhawks have three national titles. Kansas is 31-4 and has won 15 straight games. The Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular season title for a 12th straight season. Kansas won the Big 12 tournament by beating Kansas State in the quarterfinals, Baylor in the semifinals and West Virginia 81-71 in the championship game.

The Jayhawks lost to Michigan State in Chicago early in the season, and has road losses at West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Kansas has wins over UCLA and Vanderbilt in the Maui Invitational, home wins over Harvard, Oregon State, Montana, Baylor, Oklahoma in triple overtime, TCU, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Iowa State, plus road wins over San Diego State, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas. Kansas is 21-11 ATS and the total is 12-19-1 this season. The Jayhawks were 24.55 point favorites against Austin Peay and the total was 150.5.

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Connecticut is outscoring teams 73-63 this season. The Huskies are #12 in points allowed nationally. UConn is shooting 46% from the field and 36.2% from three point range. The Huskies lead the nation in free throw shooting at 78.7% from the line. Opponents are shooting 38.2% from the field and 32.7% from 3 point range. The Huskies are #4 nationally in field goal defense. UConn averages 36.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 30.4 per game. The Huskies average 13.9 assists, 11.1 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 5 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.4 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 5.1 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Shonn Miller averages 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Rodney Purvis averages 12.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. Daniel Hamilton averages 12.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Sterling Gibbs averages 12 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Four other players will get significant time in the rotation.

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Kansas is out scoring teams 82-68 this season. The Jayhawks are #14 in scoring nationally. Kansas is shooting 49.5% from the field and 42.7% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #6 in field goal percentage and #2 in three point shooting nationally. Kansas makes 70.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.6% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #24 in field goal defense nationally. Kansas averages 37.9 rebounds a game and opponents average 30.2 per game. The Jayhawks average 15.9 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 11 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 3.4 blocks per game.

Forward Perry Ellis averages 16.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Guard Wayne Selden, Jr. averages 13.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1 steal a game. Frank Mason III averages 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Devonte’ Graham averages 11.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Brannen Greene averages 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Six other players get significant time in the rotation.

UConn is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games and overall, 4-0 after a straight up win, after a cover, and against teams with winning records, 16-5 in NCAA Tournament games, and 37-15-1 in neutral site games.

Kansas is 6-0 ATS in non-conference games, 7-1 in neutral site games, 12-3 overall, 11-3 after a straight up win, 10-3 against teams with winning records, 14-5 after a cover, 5-2 in Saturday games and after scoring 90 points or more.

In 2011 and 2014, UConn was on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament until they won their conference tournament. The Huskies would go on to win the national championship in both of those seasons. Kansas has had some early round exits in the NCAA Tournament recently. That is why a lot of people are picking UConn to pull off the upset. I just think Kansas has too much talent to let that happen. I like the Jayhawks to pull out a close win.

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