- #4 Kansas faces tough test vs #5 Auburn in Round of 32
- Jayhawks still undefeated on neutral sites this season
- With a win, a potential KU-UNC showdown awaits in the Sweet 16
If anyone was feeling sour about no. 4 Kansas heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks doled out an elixir in their opening-round game, dominating Northeastern from the opening tip to win 87-53.
The Jayhawks are on 🔥!
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 21, 2019
Odds makers have taken notice, jumping them up the queue in a pack of teams just outside the top-10 betting favorites at +3300 – this from a team given +5000 odds when the Madness kicked off.
2019 NCAAM Tournament Favorites
|Team||March Madness Seed||Odds to win 2019 March Madness at BetOnline|
*Odds from March 22, 2019
Is Kansas a worthy wager at +3300?
Jayhawks Written Off Early
The usually-high expectations for Kansas were tempered earlier this month when they lost a Big 12 tilt in Norman against Oklahoma. The loss dropped KU to 11-6 in the conference, mathematically eliminating any chance at the regular-season title.
This is the first year the Jayhawks haven’t at least shared the Big 12 crown since the 2003-04 season.
And their play was uneven for Kansas basketball – this wasn’t a case where their stats may have shown a dangerous team on the horizon.
The Jayhawks ranked 131st in offensive rating and 102nd in scoring at around 76 points a game, while surrendering 70 points a contest (145th), and coming in at 78th in defensive rating.
But as volatile as one-game playoffs are in the tournament, the Jayhawks put together one of their best showings of the year, limiting Northeastern to their worst point-per-possession mark (0.78) in the last 77 games.
Vasa Pusica, the Huskies’ leading scorer, was limited to seven points on 2-for-13 shooting, his worst offensive effort since before Thanksgiving.
On offense, Kansas pumped in 50 of their 87 points inside the paint, and old reliable Dedric Lawson led the way. His 25 points and 11 rebounds paced the attack, the seventh time in the last nine games he has led his team in both categories.
Is it Time to Wager on the Jayhawks?
This all depends on your level of confidence. The Jayhawks are a perfect 4-0 on neutral courts this season, including two of their best wins of the year, beating No. 10 Michigan State and No. 5 Tennessee.
However, if you count all their true road games (where they sport an ugly 3-8 record), they are just 7-8 this season outside of Lawrence.
But pedigreed programs like this have an edge when it comes to big games, and KU is no different. While they mainly flew under the radar and national consciousness this year (Zion Williamson casts a big shadow), they still put together an impressive 8-3 record against top-25 teams.
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) March 21, 2019
The Auburn match-up is a great test. The Tigers rank 15th in the nation in offensive efficiency and are a top-five squad in three-point attempts per game. If the Jayhawk defense is truly improved and shows out in the Round of 32, then picturing them taking down North Carolina in a potential Sweet 16 matchup isn’t that far fetched.
That being said, here’s hoping you’ve got other irons in the betting fire. Because we still think it’s Duke’s tourney to lose.