#8 Kansas Jayhawks vs #13 Iowa State Cyclones (2/4 @ 12:00 PM EST)
Spread: Iowa State -1
Money Line: Kansas -105 / Iowa State -115
Overview and Betting Info
The #8 Kansas Jayhawks (18-4) will head to Ames on Saturday to take on the #13 Iowa State Cyclones (15-6) in a battle of top 15 teams. Kansas won their January matchup in a 62-60 thriller. Kansas and Iowa State are both 6-3 in the Big 12, trailing Texas by a game.
Kansas is 9-13 against the spread this season but has covered five of their eight road games. They’ve gone over the total twelve times, doing so in four of their eight road games.
Iowa State is 12-9 versus the spread and has covered eight of their twelve home games. They’ve gone over the total eight times, five of which came at home.
The Jayhawks remain in the top ten despite dropping three of their last five games. Those three losses came against top 15 teams, with losses at #7 Kansas State (OT), at #11 Baylor, and at hosting #15 TCU. They would break the three-game skid with a win against Kentucky and followed it with a revenge win against #7 Kansas State on Tuesday. They lead the conference in scoring (78.2 PPG), field goal percentage (47.8%), and three-point percentage (36.1%) and are second in rebounds (37.9). Their defense has been solid, ranking third in opponent scoring (67.3 PPG). They have just two road losses that came against Baylor and KSU.
The Jayhawks are led by forward Jalen Wilson (21.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG) and guard Gradey Dick (14.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 1.6 SPG). Wilson is eleventh in the country in scoring and is averaging 26.6 points over their last five games. He’s shooting the ball as well as anyone in the country and will be looking to continue that against a Cyclones team that held him to a 35.7% field goal percentage. Dick is an excellent three-point shooter (42.5%) and is a great defender, with at least one steal in each game since Thanksgiving. In January, he was the Jayhawks’ top scorer against the Cyclones, shooting 53.8% from the field for 21 points. His scoring has been slightly inconsistent recently, including in their win on Tuesday, where he shot 25% from the field.
The duo is supported by Kevin McCullar Jr (10.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.4 SPG), KJ Adams Jr (10.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG), and Dajuan Harris Jr (7.7 PPG, 6.3 APG, 1.8 SPG). All three are fantastic defenders, with McCullar ranking tenth in the country in steals per game. The senior guard has been excellent over their last three games, averaging 13.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.0 steals. Adams was fantastic in December and the beginning of January, but he’s now been held to eight or fewer points in three of his last four games. He played well against Iowa State last month, making 66.7% of his shots for 15 points and six rebounds. Harris is their best distributor, but his offense has fallen off recently. Before breaking out of the slump for 18 points against Kansas State, the guard averaged 2.6 in the five games prior. Harris was held to zero points against Iowa State but added six assists, two blocks, and a steal.
The Cyclones opened the season going 13-2 but have struggled of late, losing four of their last six games. One came to Kansas, but the rest were terrible losses, including their 77-80 loss to a Texas Tech team that had been 0-8 in the conference. It’s a troubling trend, but they remain undefeated at home with wins over Kansas State, Texas, and Baylor. They are last in the Big 12 in scoring (65.6 PPG) and eighth in field goal (43.1%) percentage, three-point percentage (31.5%), and rebounding (32.4 RPG). The defense ranks around the same, landing in the bottom half of the conference in opponent scoring (62.5 PPG), field goal percentage (43.1%), and three-point percentage (42.5%). They are second in steals despite struggling to contain opponent shooting (8.54 SPG).
Iowa State is led by Jaren Holmes (13.5 PPG, 1.2 SPG), Gabe Kalscheur (13.4 PPG, 1.6 SPG), and Caleb Grill (10.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.5 SPG). Holmes is their leading scorer, averaging 16 points over their last five games. He struggled against Kansas last month and was held to seven points and a 33.3% shooting percentage. Kalscheur had a slow start to the season but has emerged as a top scorer over their last ten games, averaging 17.8 points. That includes a 23-points performance against the Jayhawks. Grill is their top shooter, making 43.2% of his shots from the field and 40.2% from three. He is coming off a 24-point performance where he hit eight from three, but he made just 12.5% of his shots points against Kanas last month.
Their stars are supported by a solid duo of role players in Osun Osunniyi (9.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG) and Tamin Lipsey (6.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, 1.9 SPG). While their scoring is inconsistent, both are aggressive on defense. Osunniyi was great against Kansas (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and is averaging 11.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in the five games since. Lipsey is making 52.1% of his shots this season, though he doesn’t shoot often. He has been incredible on defense, with ten steals in their last five games. He had six assists versus Kansas but managed just four points on five shots.
Free Pick: Iowa State -1
Kansas is the better team here, but the Cyclones are one of the best home teams in the country. ISU’s losses to Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas Tech are concerning, but incredible wins broke them up against two top-ten teams (#10 Texas and #7 Kansas State). They score an average of 76.3 points at home, while Kansas averages 74.2 points on the road.
Their close loss in January will make the Cyclones confident they can play with Kansas’s talent, despite their recent road losses. They contained Wilson in their first game on the road and is likely to happen again at home. The crowd will be crazy, and the team will respond to that. Look for many points and steals in a win for Iowa State.
We’re rolling with the Cyclones on Saturday.