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Kansas vs Kentucky Picks, Odds & Betting Predictions (Nov. 14)

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in College Basketball

Updated Nov 14, 2023 · 4:07 PM PST

Kansas Jayhawks forward K.J. Adams Jr rises for a dunk
Nov 6, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward K.J. Adams Jr. (24) shoots against North Carolina Central Eagles guard Fred Cleveland Jr. (0) during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
  • The #1 Kansas Jayhawks and #17 Kentucky Wildcats square off in the Champions Classic in Chicago today
  • Both teams have won their first two games by 20-plus points
  • Get the Kansas vs Kentucky odds, picks, and player props for Nov. 14

The second and final matchup of the 2023 State Farm Champions Classic will see the #1 Kansas Jayhawks (2-0, 0-0 neutral , 2-0 ATS) square off with the #17 Kentucky Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 neutral, 1-1 ATS) in a battle between arguably the two bluest blue bloods. Both teams routed their first two opponents at home but neither has faced a top-200 team yet.

Kentucky is once again loaded with freshmen talent (four 5-star, top-15 recruits) but oddsmakers give a significant edge to the more-veteran Jayhawks heading into Tuesday night’s game at the United Center in Chicago (9:30 pm ET).

Kansas vs Kentucky Odds

Team Point Spread Moneyline Total
Kansas Jayhawks -6.5 (-110) -300 O 147.5 (-110)
Kentucky Wildcats +6.5 (-110) +250 U 147.5 (-110)

Kansas is a 5.5-point neutral-court favorite in Tuesday’s college basketball odds and -235 to win straight-up, a 70.15% implied win probability. The total of 147.5 is 4.5 points higher than any of the four games the teams have played this year. Kansas is 2-0 over/under while Kentucky is 0-2.

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Odds from ESPN Bet on Nov. 14. Table updated at 7:06 pm ET to reflect odds movement. 

ESPN will have the broadcast of this game. As of 3:00 pm ET today, sports bettors can claim the ESPN Bet promo code to get $250 in bonus bets.

Kansas remains the betting favorite in the odds to win March Madness, narrowly ahead of Kentucky in fourth.  Sensibly, both are among the top-five favorites in the Final Four odds (Kansas +360, Kentucky +425).

Kansas Incorporates Dickinson Seamlessly

Bill Self landed the most highly-coveted transfer this offseason when he lured seven-footer Hunter Dickinson away from Michigan. Dickinson opened the season third in the Wooden Award odds – behind to reigning-winner Zach Edey and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski – and has proven oddsmakers prescient.  Dickinson leads the Jayhawks in points (19.5) and rebounds (8.0) while adding 3.5 assists, 1.5 blocks, and a steal despite averaging just 22 minutes per game in KU’s two blowout wins (99-56 over NC Central, 99-61 over Manhattan).

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Kansas lost Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick, the team’s two leading scorers last year, to the NBA, but supplementing Dickinson are senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr (18.5 PPG, 4.5 APG) and junior forward KJ Adams Jr (13.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG). While it wasn’t a banner year for Self on the recruiting trail, guard Elmarko Jackson (ranked #26 by ESPN) joined the Kansas ranks and has looked solid running the point at times. The future first-round pick is averaging 8.5 points and 7.5 assists in 25 minutes per game so far.

Self also added 6’9 Australian “guard” Johnny Furphy, who’s hitting at a 45.5% clip from beyond the arc (5-of-11) while averaging 10.5 PPG.

After claiming the Big 12 regular-season title last year, Kansas suffered bitter disappointment in both the conference tournament – getting blown out by Texas in the title game (76-56) – and the 2023 NCAA Tournament – losing to #8 Arkansas in the second round (72-71) as a #1 seed. That marked the third time in the last four tournaments that Self’s Jayhawks exited in the round of 32, though a 2022 national championship helps to relieve the bitter taste.

Missing Big Bodies, Kentucky Rolls First Two Opponents

Kentucky had no issues dusting aside New Mexico State (86-46) and Texas A&M-CC (81-61) in its first two games of the season, though the former kept the deficit to single digits at halftime (37-29). Four of John Calipari’s five 5-star freshman have played significant minutes, but it’s senior guard Antonio Reeves who leads the team in scoring so far (16.0 PPG on 50.0 FG% and 50.0 3P%).

The biggest issue for UK right now is injuries and absences: seven-foot freshman Aaron Bradshaw is sidelined with a foot injury; Ugonna Onyenso, another seven-footer from Nigeria who averaged 6.9 MPG last year as a freshman, is also out with a foot injury; and 7’2 Croatian Zvonimir Ivisic has not been ruled eligible yet.

The Wildcats have still managed to out-rebound their first two opponents, but winning the battle on the boards is going to be significantly harder against Dickinson and the Jayhawks if Calipari runs with another same small lineup, which he kind of has to. Kansas is +29 on the glass after two games. Kentucky doesn’t have an available player over 6’9.

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The size discrepancy wouldn’t be as big a concern if Kentucky was shooting well from deep. But UK is hitting at just 32.7% from three early on, while sitting 215th in the country in offensive rebound rate (27.8%). They have been excellent at denying their (so far undersized) opponents second chances (26th out of 362 DI teams) but that won’t help them generate more looks against a Kansas team that’s also in the top 75 at cleaning up defensive boards.

Kansas vs Kentucky Prediction

The talent on Calipari’s roster is undeniable. Justin Edwards (14.0  PPG, 6.0 RPG) is a future lottery pick and DJ Wagner (12.0 PPG, 3.5 APG) could be as well.  With senior West Virginia transfer Tre Mitchell (13.5 PPG,  8.5 RPG) adding much-needed experience in the frontcourt, the Wildcats will more than stay afloat while they wait for Bradshaw and the other big men to suit up.

But on paper, they’re at a significant disadvantage to Kansas on Tuesday night. Dickinson will have his way with Mitchell under the rim, and it’s likely that the Jayhawks – who sit ninth in the nation in three-point percentage at a phenomenal 46.9% – are more effective from beyond the arc. This is a big spread against such a talented team, but it’s hard to see where on the court Kentucky is going to have a discernible advantage.

  • Kansas vs Kentucky pick: Kansas -5.5 (-110)
  • Sascha Paruk’s 2023 NCAA betting record: 3-1 ATS

 

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