Kansas State travels to Lawrence for a matchup with Kansas University on Saturday. The Wildcats haven’t won at KU’s place since 2006 and they will have to win as big underdogs if they want to snap that losing streak in 2018. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are potentially just a win away from getting back into a tie for first-place in the Big-12 Conference Standings, depending on what happens in the West Virginia/Texas Tech matchup today.
The Big-12 is a loaded conference from top to bottom, but four schools have emerged as the title contenders: undefeated West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and the 13-time reigning champion Kansas Jayhawks. West Virginia (4–0) is at Texas Tech (3–1) on Saturday and Kansas (3–1) is at West Virginia on Tuesday. The puzzle could potentially be significantly more complete in the next four days.
First, the Jayhawks have to take care of their in-state rival as 12-point favorites. Bruce Weber’s Kansas State squad can really score and Kansas has had some defensive troubles in its four conference games thus far. The Jayhawks gave up 86 points at Texas, 85 against Texas Tech, 84 at TCU and 78 to Iowa State in their most recent win earlier this week. All four of those games went over the total.
K-State averages 77 points per game, though it has been all over the map in Big-12 play. The Wildcats put 91 on ISU and 86 on Oklahoma State but struggled against the conference’s top competition with 69 points against West Virginia and just 58 against Texas Tech. Both of those games were at full strength, which the Wildcats will not be at on Saturday because their starting point guard Kamau Stokes will miss his second-straight game. Stokes is a facilitator and deadly three-point shooter, who averages over 13 points per game.
It’s no small loss for KSU but it was able to overcome Stokes’ absence earlier this week against Oklahoma State when red-shirt freshman Cartier Diarra stepped in to give the Wildcats quality minutes and leading scorer Barry Brown put in a career-high 38.
Kansas hasn’t shown the mentality to win games with defense. It has depth problems with what has amounted to be a seven-man rotation at best. Tough defense is how to bury Kansas State, so I don’t see the Wildcats going away in this game. At the same time, I don’t see how in the world Kansas State stops Kansas in a matchup of the #9 offense in the country going up against the 106th-best defense. I liken this game to be high-scoring and close enough for K-State to cover, though I believe the over to be the superior play. There’s a great chance Kansas hits 90 points and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas State finished somewhere the 80s. If either of those things happen, it’s going over. And there’s a chance it still does if neither do.
Free Pick: Over 152