College Basketball Sweet 16 Picks: #1 Kansas Jayhawks vs #4 Michigan Wolverines

2013 NCAA Tournament – South Regional Semifinal
#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs #4 Michigan Wolverines
Friday, March 29, 2013, 7:37 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Opening Line: Kansas -2
Current Line: Kansas -1 1/2
Opening Total: 136 1/2
Current Total: 135 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas -135 / Michigan +115
Current Money Line: Kansas -130 / Michigan +110

Kansas is a slight favorite against Michigan in the South regional semifinal in Arlington, Texas Friday.
Kansas is a slight favorite against Michigan in the South regional semifinal in Arlington, Texas Friday.

The #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks will take on the #4 Michigan Wolverines Friday night in the South regional semifinal at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX. The winner will face either #3 Florida or #15 Florida Gulf Coast in Sunday’s regional final for the right to go to the Final Four.

Michigan leads the series 5-2 against Kansas, but the Jayhawks have won the last 2 games, including 67-60 in overtime in Ann Arbor in 2011. The two schools have never played in the NCAA tournament before.

The 31-5 Jayhawks tied with Kansas St at 14-4 for the Big 12 regular season title. It was the 9th straight Big 12 title for Kansas. The Jayhawks would defeat Kansas St for the third time this season 70-54 in the Big 12 Championship also in Kansas City.

Kansas drew #16 seed Western Kentucky in the second round. The Jayhawks got everything they could handle from the Hilltoppers. Western Kentucky was actually up 31-30 at halftime. Kansas would take an 11 point lead in the second half, but the Hilltoppers never gave up. The Hilltoppers pulled to within 59-55 with 24 seconds left, despite foul trouble to some of their bigs. However, Kansas made their free throws and escaped with a 64-57 win. No #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed. The Jayhawks beat old rival North Carolina in the third round. In the first half, Kansas went 7 minutes without making a field goal, and were down 30-21 at halftime. The Jayhawks stormed back in the second half though outscoring the Tar Heels 49-28 in the 70-58 win for Kansas. Kansas improved to 8-0 this season in Kansas City, roughly 40 miles from their campus in Lawrence.

The 28-7 Michigan Wolverines finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, widely considered to be the best conference in the country. The Wolverines tied for fourth with Wisconsin behind 14-4 Indiana and 13-5 Ohio St & Michigan St. The Wolverines were seeded fifth in the Big Tournament and lost to Wisconsin 68-59 in the quarterfinals.

The Wolverines are the #4 seed in the SouthRegion. They beat #13 seed South Dakota St 71-56 in the second round. Michigan took a narrow 30-26 into halftime. The Wolverines pulled away in the second half. Michigan took the 71-56 win to advance to the third round. In the third round, Michigan crushed #5 Virginia Commonwealth 78-53. Many thought the Rams could pull off the upset thanks to their pressure defense. However the Rams were never in the game. Michigan advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time  since 1994.

Kansas is coached by Bill Self. The  losses for the Jayhawks this season came against Michigan St in Atlanta early in the season, at home against Oklahoma St, and at TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor. The Jayhawks have key wins over Washington St, Saint Louis, and Oregon St all in Kansas City, along with a road wins at Ohio St,  Texas Tech twice, Texas twice, Kansas St twice, West Virginia twice, and Oklahoma St and home wins over Colorado, Richmond, Temple, Iowa St, Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU. The Jayhawks are 20-15 ATS and the total is 14-17-1 this season.

Kansas is outscoring teams 75-61 this season. The Jayhawks are in the top 50 nationally in both categories. Kansas is #14 in field goal percentage at 47.9% and  36.3% from three point range. The Jayhawks are shooting 73.8% from the free throw line. Kansas averages 39.3 rebounds per game, and gives up 29.7 per game. The Jayhawks are #10 in rebounding nationally.  Kansas opponents are shooting 35.7% from the field and 30.2% from 3 point range. Kansas is #1 in opponent’s field goal percentage. The Jayhawks average 15 assists, 7 steals, 7 blocks and 14 turnovers a game.

Guard Ben McLemore averages 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal per game. Center Jeff Withey averages 13.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks per game.  Guard Travis Releford averages 11.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Guard Elijah Johnson averages  9.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Kevin Young averages 7.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. Perry Ellis, Naadir Tharpe, Andrew White III and Jamari Taylor make up the rest of the rotation. Forward Justin Wesley is doubtful with an ankle injury.

Michigan is coached by John Beilein. Michigan has losses at Ohio St, Indiana twice, Wisconsin twice, Michigan St, and Penn State.  All of the Wolverine losses came to the 4 other conference leaders except for last place Penn State. Michigan has key home wins over Cleveland State, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Western, Central, and Eastern Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue twice, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St, Illinois and Michigan St, . The Wolverines also have wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas St in a tournament in New York City, West Virginia in Brooklyn, and at Bradley, Northwestern, Minnesota, and Illinois. Michigan is 16-16-1 ATS this season and total is 19-14 this season.

Michigan is outscoring teams 75-62 this season. The Wolverines are #24 in scoring. Michigan is shooting 48.5% from the field and 38.2% from 3 point range. The Wolverines are in the top 25 nationally in both categories. Michigan makes 71.1% from the free throw line. Michigan averages 35.1 rebounds per game and gives up 29.4 per game. Michigan opponents are shooting 41.9% from the field and 32.4% from 3 point range. The Wolverines are averaging 14 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks and 9 turnovers.

Michigan guards Trey Burke averages 18.8 points, 6.7 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. He is a national player of the year finalist. Guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. averages 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. Guard Nik Stauskas averages 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. Forward Glenn Robinson III averages 11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. Forward Mitch McGary averages 6.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1 steal and 0.6 blocks a game to lead the team. Forward Jordan Morgan averages 5 points and 4.5 rebounds.  Caris LaVert and Jon Horford also get significant minutes.

Michigan is 5-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 6-1 in neutral site games, 4-1 in NCAA tournament and non-conference games, 3-7 against teams with winning records, 4-10 overall, and 1-4 after a straight up win.

Kansas is 11-2 ATS overall, 9-2 after a straight up win, 8-2 after a cover, 4-1 in neutral site games, 6-2 against teams with winning records, 5-2 in non-conference games, 4-12 against Big Ten teams, and 1-4 in Friday games.

I am not sure Michigan has anyone that  can handle Withey down low. Both teams have some quick guards and are comfortable playing in the 70’s so this should be an up and down affair. Kansas has struggled in the first half against WKU and North Carolina, something they can’t do against Michigan. I like Kansas to win a  close high scoring game.

Our expert college basketball picks will help you crush the books in March. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

 

 

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