(13) Northeastern v. (4) Kansas
Time: 3 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: KAN -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
Kansas is ranked No. 17 in the AP Rankings after finishing 25-9 this season with a 12-6 mark in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks concluded its season with a 66-78 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship. Kansas got 18 points from Dedric Dawson, but he shot just 8 of 21 from the field, also grabbing eight rebounds, dishing an assist and coming up with three steals and a block. Devon Dotson shot 7 of 13 from the field to finish with 17 points, three assists and three rebounds, while Quintin Grimes added 10 points on 5 of 12 shooting but he missed all six of his threes.
The Jayhawks were led by Lawson who averaged 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, while also coming up with 2.4 steals/blocks per game. Lawson shot 37 percent from three-point range and he attempted 81 this season. Lagerald Vick (145 attempts) and Grimes (148) were the big lifters from three, and Vick averaged a second-best 14.1 per game while Grimes added eight points per game in 27 minutes per game off the bench. The Jayhawks top-eight players all see 26 minutes or better, but it does not go much deeper into its rotation with Charlie Moore and David McCormack both having spot roles at times.
Kansas averaged 75.4 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, but the team was just 69.7 percent at the line and it has four rotation players that are true liabilities at 60 percent or worse on the season. Kansas attempted just 702 threes this season, and it averages 13.3 turnovers per game. Lawson ended the season strong, scoring 18, 23, 16, 24, and 18 in his final five games. He had 23 points and 14 rebounds to go with three blocks in a 78-70 win over Baylor on Mar 9 and he had 24 points on 69.2 percent shooting in the 88-74 win over West Virginia in the Conference semifinals.
Northeastern finished the season 23-10 and defeated Hofstra 82-74 in the CAA Finals to advance to the NCAA tournament. Hofstra was 27-7 with a 15-3 conference record, but the Huskies emerged as underdogs after posting a 14-4 record in CAA play. Northeastern concluded its season with six-straight wins, defeating all conference opponents and only having one close scare (70-67 win over COFC) and all other wins by 10 points or more.
The Huskies surrendered 70.3 points per game this season but scored 76.1 itself and tallied 14.3 assisted baskets per game. Northeastern was led by Vasa Pusica’s 17.8 points per game. Pusica shot 40.1 percent from three-point range, as did his backcourt mate and No. 2 scorer Jordan Roland. Both played 30 minutes or more per game and accounted for 32.5 points per game between them. Shawn Occeus is the third guard in that rotation and the No. 3 scorer at 10.1 points per game. Northeastern attempted 830 threes this season while shooting 38.8 percent as a team, and it is a 75.1 percent from the line as a team.
Northeastern is obviously handily outmatched by Kansas, but as a team with multiple three-point shooting weapons and a good overall shooting team, anything can happen if Northeastern does get cooking. A 7-point spread is hardly insurmountable with some hot shooting guards.
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