Kansas at Kentucky Lines, Expert Pick & TV Info
The best non-conference matchup left in the regular season is easily Saturday’s matchup between No. 2 Kansas and No. 4 Kentucky in Lexington. There will be several future NBA players on the court. The only negative about this terrific SEC/Big 12 Challenge marquee matchup is that both programs come off upset losses or the winner Saturday might be No. 1 in the country in the new polls. These are also the two winningest programs in NCAA history. Kentucky will be an NCAAB odds favorite at home.
Kansas at Kentucky Lines, Expert Pick & TV Info
Why Bet On Kansas?
The Jayhawks lost their season opener in Hawaii to Indiana, won their next 18 games and then saw that streak end Tuesday night in an 85-69 loss at West Virginia — it was KU’s fourth straight loss there, the first time ever the school has lost four games in a row at another Big 12 opponent.
Kansas (18-2, 7-1 Big 12) overcame a nine-point WVU lead with just under 10 minutes remaining, but the Mountaineers closed the contest on a 27-10 run in the final nine minutes of regulation. Freshman guard Josh Jackson led the Jayhawks with 22 points on 7-of- 12 shooting, including a 4-for- 4 mark from 3-point range. Senior center Landen Lucas grabbed 10 rebounds for his fifth double-figure rebounding effort in eight conference games.
Kansas managed WVU’s style of defense, branded “Press Virginia,” with a meager 13 turnovers compared to WVU’s nation-leading 23.2 forced turnovers per game. But WVU capitalized on KU’s miscues with 19 points off turnovers. Kansas leads the Big 12 and is eighth nationally with a 50.2 field goal percentage.
KU leads the league with a 41.6 3-point field goal percentage, which is fifth in NCAA Division I. Frank Mason leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage at 53.7 percent. He is fourth in 3-pointers made at 2.3 per game. Jackson, meanwhile, has been named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week each of the last two weeks.
There is one potential cloud hanging over the basketball team. University police have been investigating the reported rape of a 16-year- old, which took place between Dec. 17 and Dec. 18 at McCarthy Hall, which houses the men’s basketball team. The police report listed five players as witnesses: Mason III, Mitch Lightfoot, Lagerald Vick, Tucker Vang and Jackson. Police have not filed charges nor released information about potential suspects, citing the ongoing investigation. The athletic department has been cooperating with investigators and Coach Bill Self said “if there was an issue” with any individual player “they wouldn’t be playing.”
Self acknowledged the investigation has been a distraction for the team.
“It certainly is a distraction without question,” Self said. “The Kentucky game is a big game. It’s probably as big a game for fans as it is for players, but certainly players. It’s a game that you circle and you look forward to playing whenever the season begins and whenever we start practicing.
Why Bet On Kentucky?
ESPN College GameDay will be at Rupp Arena on Saturday for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Saturday’s event will mark the sixth visit to Lexington, only behind Kansas and Duke’s seven trips. All told, this will be UK’s 13th ESPN College GameDay appearance, behind only North Carolina (15), Duke (14) and Kansas (14). The show also featured last year’s game in Lawrence, Kansas.
The Cats were stunned 82-80 at Tennessee on Tuesday. Malik Monk scored 25 points, and Bam Adebayo had 21 points, including 15 in the second half. Adebayo made seven of eight from the field and the free throw line. Isaiah Briscoe had his second double-double of the season with 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the game. De’Aaron Fox was the fourth Wildcat in double figures, scoring 17 points.
A double-digit favorite, John Calipari’s club trailed the final 29 minutes to a team that was 3-4 in the SEC. UK allowed the Vols to shoot 53 percent from the floor in the second half. The Cats made careless errors on offense and failed to make big stops on defense.
Kentucky scored 34 first-half points – tying its season low (vs. Michigan State – Nov. 15, 2016). UK also shot a first-half season-low 34 percent on 11 of 32 from the field. UK faced its largest halftime deficit of the season, and trailed after 20 minutes for the second time this season (vs. UCLA). The Wildcats shot 41.7 percent from the floor, ending a streak of seven straight games in which they made at least 50 percent of their shots. It had been the longest streak for the Wildcats since the 1983-84 Wildcats had eight straight games of 50 percent or better. Tennessee’s 82 points were the third most by a UK opponent this year.
Kentucky lost at Kansas 90-84 in OT last year but here has been a ton of turnover on both sides.
Kansas at Kentucky Expert Pick: Kentucky Wildcats
Both of KU’s losses are away from home, while Kentucky has largely dominated at home. Take the Cats.