by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
January 11th, 2020
#6 Kansas at Oklahoma State
Spread: Oklahoma State (+3.5); O/U: 144.5
Time/Location: 8:00 ET, Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Kansas Jayhawks (10-2, 4-1)
The Jayhawks suffered one of their larger defeats in recent history against Texas after a long layoff, but that’s not as much of an indication of Kansas’s state as it is of Texas’s. Kansas is playing good basketball this season, but Texas is playing great basketball. Marcus Garrett has yet to play to his full potential, but his defensive efforts and ability to affect a game without the ball in his hands is helping Kansas recover from that loss.
Another major reason that Kansas is playing so well are their wings and swingmen. Ochai Agbaji, Jalen Wilson, and Christian Braun are tearing up both ends of the court, but especially so on offense. Agbaji is one of the best shooters from range this season in the entire country. Jalen Wilson isn’t shooting quite as well but is still scoring and rebounding at a very high rate. Braun has exploded in his expanded role, stuffing the stat sheet. David McCormack is also playing well on the inside with an 11/6 line, but he’s not living up to that traditional big man role that Kansas loves to employ. That’s fine this season, but it could certainly help.
The advantages held this season still come back to the shooting and athleticism that Kansas has. This team isn’t nearly as good as the one we saw last season, but they’re still Kansas and they still have these great athletes that play basketball for them. They shoot well from three, they out-rebound most of the other teams they see, they block and steal the ball because they’re simply bigger and faster. And most importantly, they don’t have to work as hard to do it. This team is very dangerous and can beat anyone at any time. If Marcus Garrett and David McCormack can improve over the course of the season, they’ll return to the top of the rankings deservedly.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-3, 2-3)
Oklahoma State has frustrated me in a couple of ways this season. Cade Cunningham may be the best player in the country and will almost certainly be the first player picked in this year’s NBA draft. He’s producing very well with what he has around him and I have no issue with him playing at Oklahoma State, but it almost feels like a waste. Isaac Likelele is the only player on the team even close to his level of production and there’s really no one else worthy of sharing the court with him. In addition, this team isn’t currently eligible for the NCAA tournament which would leave the best player out of the bracket. That’s not fun at all.
Luckily, Cunningham and Likelele are doing enough to keep the Pokes afloat so far. All three losses so far have come in Big 12 play and they were by a combined seven points; a one point loss to TCU, and three point loss to Texas, and a three point loss to West Virginia in one of the most disgusting comebacks you’ll see this season. State is legitimately a few shots away from being undefeated this season.
Also luckily, while Oklahoma State doesn’t have too many major producers, their players behind the stars are all decent role players with no serious liabilities. While none of them should be counted on to win a game, they’re all consistent and make reliable appearances. Be it the Boone brothers, Rondell Walker, Avery Anderson, MAM, or Bryce Williams, they have players who can and will make an impact. Again, there’s no guarantee they’ll win games for the team, but they’re capable of helping take the load off Cunningham and Likelele and giving them a chance to win the game.
Analysis and Pick
I don’t really love where the line is sitting at the current moment and thus want to avoid it. I think Oklahoma State will probably cover, but the way Kansas has played in their last two games is pushing me away from that number. Instead I’m liking the total. 144 points isn’t a lot, but Kansas hit the under in a lot of its games this season and when they play better competition, they prefer to slow down the offense and make sure the looks they get provide points. On defense they won’t stop Likelele or Cunningham, but they’ll smother the rest of the roster on the perimeter and make scoring the ball a laborious task. Take the under 144.5 points in this game as Kansas keeps the pace low.
Zack is 9-6 picking College Basketball games this season.