The Big 12 season ends with a battle of the two best in the conference when the Kansas Jayhawks hit the road to take on the Texas Longhorns. Even though Kansas won the Big 12 regular season championship, they come in as a +3.5 underdog. Texas is fresh off a loss to the stingy TCU Horned Frogs, now looking to end their year on a high note. Expect points to come at a premium with a battle of two elite defenses.
Kansas Vs. Texas Odds
The Jayhawks were not initially a near two possession underdog at +3.5 as they opened at +2.5 late yesterday. Bettors were quick to back the Longhorns, taking them up to the current number as previously mentioned. It is a perfect situational spot for Texas as they are looking for a bounce back win while the Jayhawks locked up the number one seed and can cruise into the postseason. The Texas offense struggled at times, now potentially getting a sleepy Kansas unit to round back into form.
Speaking of offense, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 148.5. Bettors were quick to hit the over, taking it up to as high as 149.5 in some shops as of writing. The line movement stemmed from the idea of the Longhorns bouncing back, finding consistent scoring as they have hit rough waters as of late. While potentially sleepy, the Kansas defense is formidable as they rank ninth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom.
Kansas Vs. Texas Prediction & Pick
The Pick: Wait on under
With full expectations of backing an under, I was quite surprised when I saw that early money had flooded in on the over. Because of that, I will patiently wait to see how high this can go before taking a position in on the under as we near tip off. I debated on a position on Texas themselves as well as this is a must win situation as they are currently in a three way tie for the second seed in the conference standings. They need a Baylor and a Kansas State loss to seal second, but a win nonetheless just to have a chance.
Sticking with just the under for now, the Longhorns defense will be poised to give the Jayhawks offense fits as they specialize in locking down the interior. Their ability to clamp down on ball movement across the middle has led to an impressive defensive shooting metrics, holding opposing offenses to a 48.9% Effective Field Goal Percentage. This will force Kansas to stretch out and rely on more on-ball possessions, a style of play that has hurt them in the past.
The Jayhawks offense thrives in off ball movement as Gradey Dick runs off screens to get in catch and shoot situations. With Jalen Wilson commanding defensive attention as one of the best playmakers in the nation, his drives and pull-ups open up the court for the rest of the offense to plug in the gaps. With the Longhorns taking that offense away from Wilson, this leaves the others prone and stagnant which leads to forced looks at the rim.
It’s not as if the Longhorns offense has been impressive as of late either to give this under ticket a scare, getting absolutely locked up in their last game out against TCU. Granted, TCU runs as one of the best defensive units in the nation when fully healthy, but Kansas maintains nearly the same suffocating style identity to give Texas fits as well. Kansas ranks 48th in the nation in opposing turnovers per game, turning that havoc style defense into offense for quick transition points. It’s crucial that the Longhorns take care of the ball, prolonging scoring opportunities.
Kansas Vs. Texas Key Matchups
Can both units limit second chance opportunities?
Battle of the boards
When it comes to cashing in an under, we need an emphasis of lock down defensive play and elite rebounding. Second chance opportunities are an under ticket killer and luckily we should have little to fear in this matchup.
Both units are league average at best in offensive rebounds per game, hovering at 131rd or higher per TeamRankings. Basing their offense on perimeter production negates rebounding chances, leaving bodies out at the arc.
With both defenses expected to clog the interior, shots will come at a lesser quality. With the bigs negating second chance looks, we can expect plenty of scoring lulls throughout the contest.
With money flooding in on the over, wait to see how high this can go before taking a position in on the under as we near tip off.