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Kansas Laying 6 Points at Stanford in Second Straight True Road Game

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in College Basketball

Updated Apr 14, 2020 · 9:43 AM PDT

The Kansas Jayhawks are favored to knock of the Stanford Cardinal at Maples Pavilion in a Big 12-Pac-12 matchup with national implications. Can KU rebound from another road loss last weekend? Or can Stanford prove its 11-1 start is for real? We analyze the game and make a prediction.
  • Kansas is a 6-point favorite at Stanford in its second straight true road game
  • KU coming off a 56-55 loss to then-No. 18 Villanova on Dec. 21
  • The Cardinal are 11-1 and off to their best start in over a decade

The No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks (9-2) are a 6-point favorite against the unranked Stanford Cardinal (11-1) in their second straight true road game. Tipoff is set for 3pm ET Dec. 29 at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto. KU is coming off a 56-55 loss as the No. 1 team in the country to then-No. 18 Villanova on Dec. 21. Meanwhile, the Cardinal are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season, when they also opened 11-1.

Kansas Jayhawks vs Stanford Cardinal Odds

Team Spread Over/Under
Kansas -6.0 (-110) O 136 (-115)
Stanford +6.0 (-110) U 136 (-105)

Odds taken on Dec. 28 

The Kansas vs Stanford odds are interesting. Sunday’s game on the Stanford campus is the conclusion of a four-game series between the Big 12 powerhouse and the mid-tier Pac-12 program. The Jayhawks are 3-0 in the recent stretch, including a 90-84 overtime win last year at Allen Fieldhouse.

And Stanford head coach Jerod Haase was a star guard on one of the best Kansas teams ever (the 1996-97 squad that went 34-2), so there’s plenty of familiarity between the two units. So can the up-and-coming Cardinal pull off the program’s biggest win since it upset a No. 2 seeded Jayhawks team playing without Joel Embiid in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament? Or will KU get back on track following a tough road loss to the Wildcats and prove it belongs to remain in the mix of our 2020 NCAA Tournament odds. Let’s break down this juicy non-conference matchup and make a prediction.

Near-Elite Defense

Haase knows he doesn’t have KU-type talent on The Farm. But the fourth-year Stanford head coach does have a team that is playing defense at a near-elite level. The Cardinal are allowing 57.5 points per game, which is best in the Pac-12. They’re No. 23 in defense adjusted efficiency rating according to KenPom.com, which is better than teams like Michigan and Michigan State. Stanford is coming off a 62-59 win over San Diego.

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Stanford held the Toreros to 36.5% shooting from the field in the victory. The team has held opponents to 38 percent from the field this season. Haase’s team will have to have an even better effort at Maples if it wants to pull off the W.

Take Care of the Ball

While Stanford has been solid defensively, it has also been exceedingly subpar in taking care of the rock. The team had 20 turnovers against USD, matching a season-worst. KenPom says Stanford turns the ball over on about 22% of their possessions. That’s not good. Going back to the defense, the Cardinal need to get stops — and maximize possessions.

And Haase knows it. “The reality is that’s who we are, and if that breaks down our product is going to be what we want,” Haase said following the victory on Dec. 21. “We have to be a defensive-minded team. We have to become an elite defensive team, and in some ways we’re working toward that. Without that we’re just another team out there. We’re getting closer.” But if they turn the ball over, things could ugly in a hurry on the beautiful Bay Area campus.

Not Battle Tested

Yes, Stanford owns an 11-1 record. But the Cardinal have gotten fat off inferior opponents. The team’s lone Power 5 win was a 73-54 victory over Oklahoma, with its lone loss coming in a 68-67 narrow defeat to highly-respected Butler. Meanwhile, all Kansas has done is hold serve for the most part in a season loaded with lofty expectations. The Jayhawks have losses to Duke and ‘Nova (by a combined three points), but quality wins over Dayton and Colorado. That win over the Flyers is the best for KU thus far.

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If the Jayhawks can convert possessions, they should be able to escape Northern California with a victory.

Pick: Kansas -6 (-110)

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