In what is a late addition to the Kansas Jayhawks’ schedule, they will welcome the UTEP Miners to Allen Fieldhouse on Thursday night. This game was added to the schedule only a week ago after Bill Self wanted to find a non-conference opponent for a tune-up. Texas El-Paso answered the call and will travel to Lawrence in a prep game before their conference tournament.
Why you ask? Self didn’t want to go into the Big 12 Tournament off a layoff, so he searched out a team to play, with the Miners up for the challenge. It’s a great measuring stick for UTEP going into their conference tournament, while Kansas will look to stay sharp following a 71-58 win over the Baylor Bears last weekend.
That was a monster win for the Jayhawks, and they solidified an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament with that performance. They didn’t need that win, but it was an exclamation mark that puts nothing in doubt now. Prior to that win, Kansas played a talented Texas team close in a 75-72 loss on February 23. Nothing wrong with that effort from the Jayhawks on the road. On a neutral court, Kansas likely wins that game.
The Jayhawks go into Thursday night with a record of 18-8 and 12-6 in the Big 12. They trail Baylor for the top spot, who’ve already clinched the regular season conference title. Kansas is the only team in the country to give the Bears a loss this season. It was not a standout performance from Baylor by any means, but a 71-58 win against them is awfully impressive.
The No. 13 Jayhawks faced No. 1 Gonzaga early in the season on November 26 to open the year. It was a solid effort by Kansas, but they couldn’t keep up with the hot shooting Bulldogs and fell by a score of 102-90. Gonzaga also beat West Virginia and Virginia early, so Kansas was not the only ranked team that failed to keep up. With the pressure on in March, maybe Self and the Jayhawks win in a rematch.
UTEP goes into Lawrence with a record of 12-10 and 8-8 in Conference USA. They are feeling really good about themselves recently, as the Miners enter this contest on a four-game winning streak with two wins against Florida International, and then Charlotte most recently on Sunday. UTEP is going to have to catch Kansas sleeping and not paying attention to pull off the upset, but you never know. Head below for our free UTEP vs. Kansas pick on March 4, 2021.
UTEP Miners vs. Kansas Jayhawks NCAA Betting Odds:
UTEP vs. Kansas Prediction:
This game and the point spread comes down to whether Kansas cares to be here tonight. Bill Self knows best that playing crisp basketball at this point in the season is incredibly important. It doesn’t matter if the stakes aren’t high, but a high effort performance is often needed in early March, which is supposed to carry over into the NCAA Tournament. We’ve seen it before. Teams that get hot just before going into March Madness tend to last long.
In other words, I don’t believe the Jayhawks are going to scoff at UTEP and take this game off tonight. Kansas does a little bit of everything well. There isn’t one aspect of their game that makes it easy on opponents to find a weakness. The most frustrating part of playing Kansas has to be finding room to operate offensively. Kansas does a pretty solid job of containing opponents. They have allowed an average of 66 points per game for 65th in the NCAA.
The competition is shooting just 40.6% from the field against Kansas. Kansas has played against much tougher competition than UTEP has this season. Along with the Big 12 slate, the Jayhawks had to deal with the high-powered Gonzaga Bulldogs to open the year. UTEP is 183rd in the NCAA with 71.2 points scored per game. They are connecting at a 42.8% clip from the field for 236th. On the road, the Miners take a huge dive to only 62.9 points scored a game. Conversely, Kansas has conceded 61.2 points per game at Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s unlikely that UTEP can score at a rapid pace to keep up with the Jayhawks tonight. In their last five games, including that performance against Baylor, the Jayhawks have allowed only 57 points per game. Kansas is on fire against the spread, going 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven, and 5-0 ATS in their last five at home. I’m on Kansas to cover in what I see as a 77-54 win for the Jayhawks.