The Kansas Jayhawks have been one of the more consistent teams in the nation during the 2019-20 season. They will look to move closer to sewing up a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament when they host a short-handed Iowa State team that they defeated in Ames by 26 points in early January.
Iowa State recently learned that it will be without leading scorer and potential NBA lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton for the rest of the season due to a fractured wrist. Even with Haliburton, the Cyclones lost to Kansas 79-53 at home in the first matchup. The Jayhawks held Haliburton to just five points on 2-7 shooting.
The Cyclones struggled in their first game without the high scoring wing but were able to put a beat down on the Texas Longhorns over the weekend, 81-52. Senior forward Michael Jacobson stepped up and provided 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Cyclones, who had four players in double figures.
Kansas, meanwhile, has been rolling as of late. The Jayhawks are currently the number one team in that nation in Kenpom and have won 10 consecutive games. Their most recent victory came at home over conference rival Oklahoma, 87-70.
The backcourt duo of Devon Dotson and Marcus Garrett continues to terrorize the Big XII on both ends of the floor with Dotson’s fantastic playmaking ability to and Garrett’s relentless defensive pressure.
Kansas is a 16-point favorite, with the over/under set at 144.5.
A whirlwind of question marks
Iowa State may have dominated a mediocre Texas team over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns. You don’t get better when you lose an NBA lottery selection. Even with Haliburton, the Cyclones weren’t great, and Phog Allen is one of the toughest places to play in the nation.
The Cyclones are winless on the road this season straight up at 0-8 and 0-12 on the season as a dog. They are just 12-13 against the spread overall and 2-6 ATS in true road games. Their totals have gone over in five of their eight road games this season and have gone over in each of their last five games at Kansas.
The Jayhawks have hit their stride
In a season of inconsistency, Kansas has been about as good as it gets, and it starts with their defense. The Jayhawks are the number one team in the nation in Kenpom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and 8th in the nation in defensive points allowed at just 60.2 points per game.
Kansas is 12-1 straight up at home this season and 21-3 straight up as the favorite. Overall, the Jayhawks are 15-10 against the spread, but just 6-7 ATS at home. The total has gone under in 11 of their last 15 games.
Which Iowa State team do we get?
Without Haliburton, this Cyclones team lacks its leader and scorer, but this team is not void of talent. Rasir Bolton, Jacobson and Solomon Young are all capable players.
The problem is that this Kansas team has taken a huge step forward on the defensive side of the court. Their 83.5 defensive efficiency number is better than even Virginia has put up in the last five seasons to give you some context. This group is as elite as it gets.
Expect Garrett to give the Iowa State guards a difficult time and Udoka Azubuike to bully his way to a big game. Sixteen is a big number, but I just don’t see how this Iowa State group can hang with Kansas at the Phog. Kansas to win and cover the big number; I’d play the under.
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