Yesterday there weren’t many games on the college basketball schedule. But while there wasn’t a ton of action, the games we did get, were fantastic, and we got some big questions answered. Is home court advantage completely dead? Absolutely not. Last night Purdue managed to knock off an undefeated Ohio State team at Mackey Arena for a win in their first Big 10 game of the season. Over in the Big East, Villanova reminded people that The Pavilion is a tough place to play no matter how many fans are in the stands, when they blew out Butler by 19-points.
So, if home-court advantage isn’t completely dead, is it as strong as it ever was? Once again, absolutely not. Oklahoma State lost as home favorites to TCU, Notre Dame lost by double-digits on their home floor to Duke, and Arizona State continued their early-season struggles with a home loss to UTEP.
— Villanova Athletics (@NovaAthletics) December 17, 2020
The other thing we saw yesterday is several teams that many people didn’t think would be any good this year, continuing to win games. Pittsburgh ran their record to 5-1 with a road win in ACC play against Miami. Richmond won for the fifth time in six games at Vanderbilt, easily covering the spread in hostile territory. And the Orange of Syracuse won another game, their 5th of the season, this time over Northeastern, and Jim Boeheim’s squad is emerging as a threat in the ACC.
Yesterday was a great day of college basketball, and today is looking to be even better as we have some blockbuster matchups on the slate. The Big East has a couple of conference games that should be exciting as Creighton plays at St. John’s, and Seton Hall plays against an upstart Marquette team in Milwaukee.
NC State and Saint Louis square off in a game between two under the radar teams that are a lot better than most people think right now. The headlining game of the day comes to us from Lubbock as the Texas Tech Red Raiders host the Kansas Jayhawks in a battle between two of the top teams in the Big 12. For our free daily betting pick, we will breakdown all of the action between the Red Raiders and the Jayhawks!
- Kansas Jayhawks (6-1) at Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-1)
- United Sprint Arena, Lubbock
- 4:00 PM PST
- TV: ESPN
The Texas Tech Red Raiders host the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 conference play opener for both teams. The Big 12 isn’t as strong top to bottom as they have been in recent years, but the top of the league is as good as any conference in the country. Kenpom has a whopping five teams from the Big 12 currently ranked in the top-10, with Baylor (2), West Virginia (5), Texas (7), Texas Tech (8), and Kansas (9) all looking like Final Four level teams. The Red Raiders are hoping to avenge last year’s home loss to Kansas and pick up their first top-100 win of the season tonight at home.
⚪️GAME DAY⚪️ pic.twitter.com/lbgkcSykUm
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) December 17, 2020
For the Jayhawks, tonight’s game marks the start of an absurdly brutal stretch of games. Kansas plays Texas Tech tonight, then they play back-to-back home games against West Virginia and Texas. The Jayhawks have picked up early-season signature victories over Kentucky and Creighton and adding a win over Texas Tech to their resume would only further solidify the Jayhawks as one of the best teams in the nation.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (6-1)
Chris Beard has managed to attract a lot of talent in his time at Texas Tech. Guys like Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, Zhaire Smith, and Tariq Owens have all left the program to go on to play in the NBA in recent years, and Texas Tech has become known as a place where future NBA lottery picks go to play. The Red Raiders had the 9th best recruiting class in the nation this year, and if that wasn’t enough, they brought in two of the biggest names on the transfer market as well, in Mac McClung and Marcus Santos-Silva.
McClung leads the team in scoring at over 14-points a game and gives Beard instant offense from a guy that can create his own shot and drain threes from deep. Santos-Silva leads the team in rounding at 7.9 boards per game and gives the Red Raiders a ferocious defender on the wings. Defense is something that the Red Raiders have become known for under Beard’s leadership, and right now, they are the number one ranked in the country in terms of defensive efficiency per Kenpom.
Kansas Jayhawks (6-1)
The Kansas Jayhawks have dominated the Big 12 for decades, and despite Baylor looking like the favorites in the league this year, you would be stupid to bet against Kansas in league play. They have just been too good, for too long, to not expect them to again finish near the top of the standings when all is said and done this season. The lone loss on the season came against a Gonzaga team that looks to be the best team in the country by a fairly wide margin at this point, so it’s hard to knock them too much for that one.
This year, Bill Self doesn’t have a superstar like he had last year with Devon Dotson, but he does have one of the deepest teams he has ever had in Lawrence. The Jayhawks have eleven players that have played in all seven of their games! That is unheard of depth for an elite team like Kansas.
No player on this roster averages 30-minutes a game, and nine different players are averaging double-digit minutes per contest. The Jayhawks use that depth to play aggressive defense and efficient offense, and it makes them a team that nobody wants to play in March.
Who Do I Like?
Both of these teams are very good. While the Jayhawks have played the tougher schedule to get to their 6-1 record, both losses for these squads came against top-10 teams, and we won’t see either team really pushed until we get fully into Big 12 play. Conference play can be a beast, particularly in the Big 12 and especially on the road. The Jayhawks are legit Final Four contenders, but I don’t see them winning each of these next three games, as it’s just too tough of a stretch of games to expect them to sweep them all.
Back-to-back-to-back games against top-10 teams on Kenpom is a lot to ask of any team, and the Jayhawks just aren’t going to win them all. So, of these three games, which one are they going to lose? I think the loss comes tonight on the road.
This is going to be a tightly contested game, but at the end of the day, I think this is the best team that Chris Beard has ever had at Texas Tech. And that is saying a lot for a guy that took his team to the national finals not long ago. You are going to have to split hairs to declare any of these top Big 12 teams as better than the rest, and while Texas Tech might not win the Big 12 regular-season title, I do see them as the Big 12 team with the best shot of cutting down the nets at the Final Four.
That -2-point line is going to be in play all night long, and Kansas will absolutely make us sweat it out. But I am backing the home team tonight in this one. This Texas Tech defense is just too nasty to not like them at home. The Jayhawks have a lot of good scorers, but they don’t have that one go-to guy that can carry them in a spot like this one where they really need it.
The Jayhawks share the basketball and spread things around, which most of the time is great. But against a Texas Tech team that can defend everywhere, they are going to wish they had a guy like Dotson or Azubuike from last year, that they can look to in a pinch to score the basketball.
Down the stretch, when this game is on the line, I am going to back the Texas Tech D to get the big stops that they need to seal the deal in this game. Give me the Texas Tech Red Raiders tonight at home, laying a bucket against a very talented, but offensively limited, Kansas Jayhawks team.