Kansas Jayhawks vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Kansas Jayhawks (22-1 SU, 9-10-1 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (19-4 SU, 9-10 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Monday, February 8, 2010, Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, Tex. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Kansas -2/Texas +2
Over/Under: 153

A few weeks ago, this was the most highly anticipated matchup in college basketball this season. It’s the Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Longhorns, the two teams that were thought to be the two best in the country. But the Longhorns have changed that idea by losing four of their last six games after starting off the season with a 17-0 record. Kansas, meanwhile, is still there as the No. 1 team in the country. The Jayhawks have lost just one game all season long, a 76-68 loss at Tennessee on January 10, and have won eight games in a row since then.

Kansas is currently 8-0 in the Big 12, while Texas is three games behind at 5-3. The Longhorns need this victory badly, not only to catch up in the conference standings but also to get back on track and prove that they are still a legitimate Final Four and National Championship threat.

Kansas is coming off a 75-64 home win over Nebraska on Saturday. The Jayhawks struggled for much of the game before barely pulling out the victory down the stretch in the second half. They shot 48 percent from the field and 8-for-19 on 3-pointers. They allowed Nebraska to stay in the game because the Cornhuskers shot 10-for-17 from 3-point range (43 percent from the field). Marcus Morris had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Jayhawks against a much smaller frontcourt. Cole Aldrich, though, had just eight points and six rebounds. Sherron Collins had 17 points and six assists.

In the Longhorns’ last game, they lost 80-71 at Oklahoma on Saturday. Oklahoma controlled the entire game, leading by 18 at the half. The Longhorns got back into the game gradually throughout the second half, but it was ultimately too steep a hill to climb. Avery Bradley led the Longhorns with 21 points, Damion James had 12 points and nine rebounds, and Gary Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds. They shot 41 percent from the field, 5-for-18 from 3-point range, and a miserable 10-for-27 from the free throw line. That’s not good enough to get it done against any team, and definitely not Kansas. The Longhorns also allowed Oklahoma to shoot 10-for-24 on 3-pointers. They can’t let Kansas shoot that well from the outside if they are going to win this game.

Kansas is shooting a better field goal percentage in conference play and holding Big 12 opponents to a lower field goal percentage than Texas. Kansas is shooting 47.5 percent from the field and holding opponents to 39.1 percent, while Texas is shooting 45.1 percent and holding opponents to 43.6 percent. The Longhorns aren’t shooting badly from 3-point range at 35.7 percent but they are only making five 3-pointers per game. The Jayhawks are shooting 39.9 percent from 3-point range but they are allowing opponents to shoot 40 percent, while Texas is holding opponents to 32.8 percent from beyond the arc. Kansas is a slightly better rebounding team, while Texas is slightly stronger in turnover margin.

A few weeks ago, this was the game that everyone was waiting for. A lot has certainly changed since then. Kansas has proved to be an elite team, while Texas has proved to be very vulnerable. The Longhorns are at home and desperately need to find a way to win this game. This is still the same Texas team it was a few weeks ago but it’s not playing nearly as well as it was or could be playing. This game is going to come down to shooting and toughness. Both of these teams are very deep and have a ton of talent at every position. The team that is hotter from the perimeter and the team that wins the rebounding battle and gets the loose balls will wins this game.

Kansas is 17-7-2 ATS in its last 26 games against Big 12 teams, 1-3-1 ATS in its last five games following an ATS loss, 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine road games, and 1-3-1 ATS in its last five games as a road favorite. Texas is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a home underdog, 2-6 ATS in its last eight games as an underdog, 6-21 ATS in its last 27 Big 12 games, 1-7 ATS in its last eight games following an ATS loss, 0-4 ATS in its last four home games, and 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games overall. The total has gone over in five of the last six meetings between these teams.

Ryno’s Pick: I fully expect the Horns to come prepared for this game and to win straight up on their home court.