Kansas Jayhawks vs. Kansas State Wildcats Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Kansas Jayhawks (19-1 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (17-3 SU, 11-4 ATS), 7:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 30, 2009, Fred Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Kansas -4/Kansas State +4
Over/Under: 155

It doesn’t get much better than this: in-state rivalry, Big 12 supremacy, two high-ranked teams, and what is sure to be a rocking Fred Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday night. The Kansas State Wildcats host the Kansas Jayhawks.

Kansas has one loss this season - a 76-68 loss at Tennessee on January 10. Since then, the Jayhawks have won five straight games, all in the Big 12, four of which were by double digits. Other than the loss at Tennessee, the Jayhawks have been pretty impressive on the road this season with a 12-point win at UCLA, a 32-point dismantling at Temple, a 12-point win at Nebraska and a 23-point win at Iowa State.

In their last game, the Jayhawks won 84-65 at home over Missouri on Monday. They pounded it inside against a smaller Missouri team, as Marcus Morris had 17 points and nine rebounds and Cole Aldrich had 12 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks. Kansas shot 49 percent from the field and 9-for-19 from 3-point range. They out-rebounded the Tigers, 53-28, and held them to 28 percent shooting from the field. But the one area the Jayhawks did not excel in was turnovers. Against Missouri’s full-court pressure, they committed 23 turnovers while Missouri only had four turnovers. They have to clean that up dramatically against Kansas State to win on the road in Manhattan.

Kansas has a well-balanced team with great post players, shooters, ball-handlers and defense. Sherron Collins is one of the best point guards in the country. He can take over a game offensively or just run the offense and set up his teammates. Aldrich and the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff) are terrific in the post. Xavier Henry and Tyshawn Taylor are great athletes on the wings that both can drive to the basket. Henry, Collins, Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar are all exceptional 3-point shooters that can burn the Wildcats if they don’t get a hand up at all times.

Kansas State was already having an incredible season when it pulled off the home upset over No. 1 Texas on January 18, 71-62. It was an ugly game with a lot of turnovers and missed shots. But the Wildcats proved to be the tougher team and came away with more rebounds and hustle plays. In the next game, they lost at home to Oklahoma State last Saturday, 73-69.

But the Wildcats got back on the winning track on Tuesday with a win at Baylor, 76-74. Jacob Pullen, who has been terrific ever since letting his beard grow out, had 25 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and 6-for-7 from 3-point range. Denis Clemente, who has been exceptional all season long, had 17 points. Rodney McGruder, one of the stars in the win over Texas, chipped in with 10 points off the bench. The Wildcats shot 49 percent from the field and 11-of-21 on 3-pointers. If they shoot like that against Kansas, they have a great shot at pulling off the upset.

Kansas is 9-4-1 ATS in its last 14 road games. Kansas State is 5-1 ATS in its last six home games and 9-2-1 ATS in its last 14 games overall. The over is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these teams. Kansas is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games at Kansas State and 6-2 ATS in its last eight games against the Wildcats overall. The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams and the road team is 11-5 in the last 16.

Ryno’s Pick: Kansas State is a tough, physical, grind-it-out team. They proved to be a little bit tougher than Texas when the Wildcats defeated the Longhorns. With Aldrich and the Morris twins inside and Collins and Henry on the perimeter, the Jayhawks are able to match that toughness. Texas wasn’t able to hit any outside shots against Kansas State, but the Jayhawks have plenty of capable outside shooters. Once then hit a few, the Wildcats will have to extend their defense, making it easier for Aldrich and the Morris twins to score inside. If Kansas State can shoot like it did against Baylor, the Wildcats can win this game, but what are the chances they shoot 11-for-21 again from 3-point range against a Kansas team that is holding its opponents to 31.6 percent on 3-pointers this season? And the Wildcats only beat Baylor by two, despite shooting so well. Kansas will continue its recent success against Kansas State and prove that the Jayhawks are the best team in the country. Take Kansas at -4 to win and cover the spread on the road.