Not to be overlooked on the Saturday sports schedule is a top-10 college basketball showdown between the no. 3 Kansas Jayhawks and the no. 8 Texas Longhorns with tipoff scheduled for 12:00 EST. The Jayhawks are favored by 4.5 points at home, with the over/under set at 137 points.
The Longhorns have risen from no. 19 at the start of the season to the top-10 with to wins over Davidson, Indiana, and North Carolina. Shaka Smart’s team sits at 7-1, with their only loss coming against Villanova. However, the Longhorns had to come from behind against Oklahoma State in their Big 12 opener, and because of a cancelation, Texas hasn’t played a game in close to two weeks.
As for the Jayhawks, they’ve been rolling since Thanksgiving Day when they lost their season opener to Gonzaga. Bill Self’s team has won eight straight games since that loss, including impressive wins over Kentucky, Creighton, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. The Jayhawks knocked off a top-10 West Virginia team by 14 points in their last game, asserting themselves as Baylor’s biggest competition in the Big 12.
In Perfect Balance
All five Kansas starters scored in double figures in the win against West Virginia, showcasing the Jayhawks’ depth and versatility this season. Ochai Agbaji and Jalen Wilson have been head headliners for Kansas early in the season. But sharpshooter Christian Braun has also had several standout games, including 22 points and seven assists against the Mountaineers. Braun also contributed 14 points and six assists in the win over Creighton, so he’s showing up against the best teams and making a difference.
Meanwhile, Marcus Garrett has become the ultimate X-factor this season. He was expected to carry the torch for the Jayhawks, but he’s currently the team’s fifth-leading scorer. Nevertheless, he scored 15 points against West Virginia and is also a lockdown defender. When he comes alive offensively and gives the Jayhawks strong play at both ends of the floor, Kansas has the look of a serious championship contender.
A Little Youth
Freshman forward Greg Brown was the savior for Texas in the win over Oklahoma State. Brown contributed 24 points and 14 rebounds in a game the Longhorns wouldn’t have won without his superhuman effort. It was the second straight double-double for Brown, who has quickly become the most important player in the Texas frontcourt. The caveat is that Brown is still finding himself in foul trouble and is only averaging a shade over 20 minutes on the court per game.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns remain heavily reliant on their veteran backcourt of Matt Coleman, Courtney Ramey, and Andrew Jones. That trio is starting to gel and is the biggest reason why Texas is a top-10 team. However, when Ramey went scoreless against Oklahoma State, the Longhorns found themselves in trouble. In other words, Texas can’t afford those three guards to have an off-night against a top-flight team like Kansas.
Beware the Fog
Kansas is deeper and more balanced than Texas is right now. The Jayhawks can also survive an off-day from one of their star players better than the Longhorns. At home, bet on Kansas to win and cover the 4.5-point spread.