Northeastern Huskies vs. Kansas Jayhawks Pick
Northeastern Huskies (23-10 SU, 18-12-3 ATS) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (25-9 SU, 16-18 ATS)
When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 – 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
By: Matt Lowry, College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE +6.5 / KAN -6.5 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 143
Last Time Out: Northeastern beat Hofstra 82-74 in the Colonial Athletic Championship; Kansas lost to Iowa State 78-66 in the Big 12 Championship
Scouting the Huskies:
The Huskies finished second in their conference regular season standings with a record of 14-4. They then coasted to the final where they met number 1-seed Hofstra. After a monster first half, they did allow the Pride to come storming back, but managed to hold on for the automatic bid. They were given a 13-seed by the committee and are already one of the more popular upset picks. With the success of 13-seeds in recent years, the Huskies will be looking to knock off one of the most historic programs of all time.
Scouting the Jayhawks:
It is fair to say that the Jayhawks have had somewhat of a disappointing season, especially because they did not extend their regular season title streak to 15 years in a row. However, they almost made up for this when they reached the Big 12 tournament title game. A pesky Iowa State team ended up beating them by double-digits, so now they are looking to rebound by making a deep run in the big boy tournament. Selected as a 4-seed, the Jayhawks may have a favorable path, but it will just depend on which Kansas team shows up in the first game.
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Head to Head:
These teams have no recent meetings and will meet for the first time in this round of 64 game.
Notable Betting Trends:
The first thing to notice about these two teams, is that they generally score quite a few points. Kansas has seen the total go over in 7 of the last 10 games and 5 of the last 6. As for the Huskies, the over is 5-5 in their last 10 and 3-2 in their last 5. Kansas has had trouble covering against the spread this season and are 3-3 in their last 6 games against the number. Northeastern is 6-0-1 against the spread in their last 7 games and other than a push versus the College of Charleston in their conference semifinals game, they have not lost against the spread since the middle of February.
Northeastern will Cover if:
They knock down a high percentage of their threes. Yes, saying this probably sounds repetitive in that the lower seed must get hot from the field to have any chance to beat a Power 5 school, but in this case with how good the Huskies have shot the ball, it is an absolute must. The Huskies come in shooting the long ball at 38.8%. This is 16th best in all of division one basketball, and it can almost be said that they live or die by the three. In their conference championship game, the Huskies were red hot from three, shooting 14 of 31 for 45.2%. While the Kansas team they will be playing is better defensively, this shooting performance shows they can get hot at any time.
Kansas will Cover if:
They improve their free throw shooting. As we know, free throw shooting is a huge part of basketball, especially in a tournament like this. We have seen teams blow huge leads in this tournament because they cannot make a free throw to save their lives. Kansas has been a very poor free throw shooting team this season and only averaged 69.7%. In the Big 12 tournament, they shot 7 of 13 from the line for 53.8%. Another performance like that and it is very likely the Jayhawks not only fail to cover, but also fail to win the game.
Matt’s Pick for Northeastern vs. Kansas:
This is most certainly a trap game for the Kansas Jayhawks. They have had a down season for their standards but will look to salvage their season with a few wins in this NCAA tournament. The line for this game opened at 10.5 in favor of Kansas but has trickled down to 6.5 points. The total is currently set at 143, which is where I am leaning because I just cannot bring myself to trust this Kansas team. With how the Huskies can shoot the ball the over should be the play for this first round matchup.
Matt’s College Basketball Pick: Over 143