NCAA basketball – Kansas Jayhawks (17-1, 7-7-1 ATS) vs. Iowa State Cyclones (12-6, 8-7 ATS), Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Saturday, Jan. 23rd, 2 PM Eastern, ESPN
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Kansas -11/Iowa State +11
National championship contender Kansas hits the road Saturday for what could be one of the tougher tests remaining on its regular season schedule when the Jayhawks visit Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.
As of late Friday afternoon this game had not yet been lined.
Kansas started this season with all five starters back from last year, and won its first 14 games. But they had a tough time with Cornell on Jan. 6, winning 71-66 as 20-point home favorites. The Jayhawks then dropped their non-conference finale on the road to a shorthanded Tennessee team 76-68. Since then Kansas has opened its Big 12 slate with three straight victories.
The Jayhawks had their hands full again Wednesday night at home vs. Baylor, needing a late surge to beat the Bears 81-75. But they came nowhere close to covering the spread as 14-point favorites, as for the first time in over 90 games they allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50% from the floor.
So at 3-0 in conference play the Jayhawks sit atop the Big 12 standings.
Iowa State returned four starters this season from a team that went 4-12 in the Big 12 last year. The Cyclones started this season with six straight wins, then lost three in a row. ISU then won four straight before losing to Duke. Iowa State then opened its conference slate with a loss to Texas, and a win at Nebraska. Wednesday night the Cyclones lost at Texas Tech 78-71 in their first game without starting shooting guard Lucca Staiger, who left the team to go home to Germany. So ISU is down to eight scholarship players.
Fortunately, two of them are F Craig Brackins and SF Marquis Gilstrap, who together are averaging 31 PPG and 17 RPG .
At 1-3 Iowa State sits in ninth place in the Big 12, and could use a big-name victim to perk up its post-season resume. The Cyclones have played in the NCAA tournament since 2005.
On the season Kansas is shooting just under 50% from the field as a team, 42% from 3-point land and 71% from the free-throw line. The Jayhawks are also holding opponents to just 36% FG shooting and are outrebounding foes by 8.9 RPG.
Iowa State is shooting 47% from the field this season, 42% from long range but just 62% from the line. The 'Clones are also limiting opponents to 40.5% shooting from the floor and are outrebounding them, but just by 1.9 RPG.
Kansas has beaten Iowa State eight times in a row. Last year KU beat ISU twice by an average score of 77-61.
KU is 3-1 straight up but 1-2-1 ATS on the road this season.
Iowa State, meanwhile, is 9-2 straight up and 5-3 vs. the numbers in Ames this season.
The Jayhawks are 6-8 on the totals this season, as their games have averaged 146.5 points.
The Cyclones are 6-6 on the totals, as their games have averaged 143 points.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings give Kansas a 13.9-point advantage over Iowa State. So factoring in Sagarin's updated college basketball home-court advantage figure of 4.2, the Jayhawks are favored over the Cyclones by 9 ½ points for Saturday's game.
Z-Man's Pick: A Kansas Jayhawk game on a Saturday that is nationally televised is surely going to be inflated by a couple points. The value here is with the Cyclones plus the points.
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