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Kansas at Iowa State NCAA Men’s Basketball Pick – Jan 5th

We are slowly putting together a pretty solid week of betting. We won again yesterday for our third win in four bets when we backed the Buffalo Bulls on the road against Eastern Michigan. The number was a big one at ten points, and as a general rule, I won’t lay double-digits on a conference road game. But in my estimation, the talent gap was just too high between these two teams and Buffalo showed me that they can win in hostile environments when they beat West Virginia in Morgantown and Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

The game went very much as I anticipated. Buffalo dominated from the tip, and the final score of 74-58 was the closest the game was for most of the second half as Buffalo led by twenty or more for long stretches. The Bulls held the Eagles to just 33% shooting on their home floor while hitting 50% of their shots from the field as a team. The MAC is the Bulls league to lose at this point, and I expect them to run through it unphased. They just have a level of talent that is going to be very hard for other mid-major programs to match this year. For today’s pick, we will head to the Big 12 for a matchup between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Iowa State Cyclones.

The Iowa State Cyclones host the Kansas Jayhawks tonight, looking for a breakthrough win. The Cyclones have gotten off to a hot start as they are 11-2, and they managed to do that without a couple of their key players not on the floor. The problem for Iowa State this year has been the fact that they were scheduled very soft in the non-conference, and the few decent teams they did play, they lost to.

Kansas has had a very different start to their season as they have taken on all comers, and for the most part, have gotten the job done. The preseason number one team currently sits at number five, and they are looking to extend their NCAA record streak of consecutive Big 12 titles to fifteen this year. To do that they are going to have to win games on the road like this one. The Cyclones are -2-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 150.5-points. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 PM PST from the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

I have been a bit of a Kansas hater this season. They are clearly very talented, but something about them just seems a little bit off. Maybe it is the fact that McDonald’s All-American point guard Quentin Grimes has looked so awful? The kid came into the season with as much hype as any player not named Zion Williamson this year and has struggled to score and has more turnovers than assists on the season. Grimes can be sloppy with the ball and tends to fade away in big moments. The Jayhawks don’t need Grimes to be elite to win the Big 12 this year. But if they want to contend for a national title, they will need him living up to his hype a lot more than he has.

One guy that has absolutely lived up to his heavy billing for Kansas has been Memphis transfer, Dedric Lawson. Lawson came into the season as the sexy pick for the Big 12 player of the year and has not disappointed. Lawson is scoring nineteen points a game and is dragging down eleven boards. Throw in two assists, a steal, and a block, and this guy is making a real case for national player of the year. I expect big things from Lawson tonight.

All the hype surrounding this Iowa State has more to do about what they could do rather than what they have done. Yeah, their schedule certainly leaves something to be desired as they don’t have a single, what I would call, “good” win. But they are 11-2 and have been playing without one of their best players, Lindell Wigginton. Wigginton rejoined the team recently and in three games has scored fifteen points a game. If Iowa State wants any chance to compete in the Big 12 this year, they are going to need to get big things out of Wigginton.

As I said above, I am a bit of a Kansas hater this year. They have had a tendency to play down to inferior competition at times this season. We saw that when they barely snuck past New Mexico State, we saw it again when it took overtime for them to beat a very mediocre Stanford team. But when you look at this body of work for Kansas, it is still mighty impressive. They beat a top ten Michigan State team. They beat a top three Tennessee Vols team. They beat ranked teams like Marquette and Oklahoma, and have a win over last year’s national champs, the Villanova Wildcats. If they were to knock off Iowa State tonight, it would be nowhere near their biggest win on the season. So, that is why I am surprised to see them as dogs.

I think people are reading a little bit too much into the return of Wigginton for Iowa State. Yes, it makes their team better. But for a team that’s biggest win of the year came against either Missouri or OK State, so to see them all the sudden be favorites over the number five team in the country is a bit shocking. This should have been a spot where you got to back Iowa State as a home dog getting points and love it. Instead, they are laying points against what arguably could be the best team in the country.

I don’t like it. Historically the Jayhawks are elite on the road in Big 12 play, and many think that this is the most talented team that Bill Self has ever had in Lawrence. Kansas is going to lose some games in the Big 12 this season, but I don’t see this as one of them. I’ll back the significantly more talented team and take the points tonight. Give me the Kansas Jayhawks +2-points tonight from Ames!

The Bet: Kansas Jayhawks +2 points

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