Kentucky vs Kansas: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (1/29/22)

Kentucky vs Kansas Betting Odds

The SEC-Big 12 challenge is awesome. It’s bringing us some massive, top-25 matchups while giving us a much-needed break from the grind that is conference play.

This Kentucky-Kansas matchup isn’t just the marquee Saturday game, it’s the game of the year.

Here’s something interesting: Kentucky is first all-time in NCAA D-I basketball wins with 2,327. Kansas is second with 2,323. The Wildcats will be looking to keep the Jayhawks at arm’s length with this matchup.

Kentucky has had a tough last two matchups. With TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler getting hurt at Auburn, the Wildcats collapsed in the second half of that game and followed it up by winning in overtime vs Mississippi State.

Meanwhile, Kansas has been barely getting by. The ‘Hawks have won four of their last five games by one possession – including a double-overtime win over Texas Tech when they were down five with 30 seconds left in overtime.

So, given the records and talents, which team has the edge in Lawrence on Saturday?

Kentucky Wildcats Odds

Kentucky is an elite statistical team.

The Wildcats are top-30 in both effective field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage allowed. They’re also one of the best rebounding teams nationally, ranking first in offensive rebounding rate and 11th in defensive rebounding rate.

In terms of the SEC alone, you can see how dominant Kentucky is on the boards:

Screen Shot 2022 01 28 at 10.55.04 AM

Image credit: CBB Analytics

Oscar Tshiebwe is the straw that stirs the drink. He’s dropping 16.3 points per game and grabbing 15.2 rebounds per game while pacing all D-I players in offensive and defensive rebounding rate. He’s putting together the greatest college hoops rebounding performance in history, and he has posted a 128.8 ORtg in the process.

The Wildcats are well-rounded, too. They’re well-coached by John Calipari, obviously. They also have an excellent back-court (albeit a young one) and wings that drive and score.

The Kentucky offense is super interior-oriented. The Wildcats are 344th in 3-point rate and fifth in percentage of points scored from 2-point range.

Kansas Jayhawks Odds

Kansas is electric offensively.

The ‘Hawks are third nationally in offensive efficiency and 15th in effective field goal percentage.

Plus, the Jayhawks are well-rounded. David McCormack is a great interior presence while Ochai Agabji is the best combo-guard in the nation. Add in wing threats in Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson, and it can be almost impossible to stop Kansas.

Kansas should be able to keep up with Kentucky on the boards. While Tshiebwe paces the nation in offensive rebounding rate, McCormack is actually second.

I’m also looking for some positive shooting regression for Kentucky going forward, and ShotQuality’s metrics projects the Jayhawks should have an extra win. Kansas is shooting 37% from 3 but ranks in just the 36th percentile in spot-up points per possession. I’m expecting those numbers to come closer together as the season progresses.

However, similar to Kentucky, the Kansas offense is very interior-oriented. The ‘Hawks are sub-250 in 3-point rate and top-75 in the percentage of points scored inside the arc.

This game should come down to whoever is more effective on the interior.

Kansas is overmatched on the defensive end. Bill Self’s team is 50th in defensive efficiency, which is the worst mark in the Big 12. The Jayhawks aren’t particularly strong in any area, but they aren’t weak anywhere either.

Except in post-up defense, where the Jayhawks are sub-300 in post-up points per possession allowed. That could spell trouble for Kansas in this game.

Kentucky vs Kansas Prediction and Pick

My pick: Kentucky +5 or better IF Washington and Wheeler are healthy

This cap will come down directly to the health of the Kentucky backcourt.

I wouldn’t dare touch this game without knowing the health of those two. If they are both out, Kentucky likely doesn’t stand a chance – especially after how the Wildcats played against Auburn with their backcourts.

However, if Kentucky has a healthy backcourt, this is too many points.

Kentucky has advantages on the defensive end and Tshiebwe should dominate McCormack down low. McCormack is good, but Tshiebwe is the most formidable opponent McCormack will have faced to date.

This will be a tight, entertaining game. Let’s hope everyone is healthy and that we can back Kentucky as a result.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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