IOWA STATE CYCLONES (15-3)
at KANSAS JAYHAWKS (15-4)
Allen Fieldhouse – Lawrence, KS
Tip-off: Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Kansas -8, Total: 154.5
No. 6 Kansas looks to remain undefeated in Big 12 play as it plays host to No. 16 Iowa State on Wednesday night.
The Cyclones (8-7-1 ATS overall, 2-2 ATS on road) snapped a three-game losing skid with an 81-75 home win over then-No. 22 Kansas State on Saturday. In the matchup against the Wildcats, Iowa State did what it does best, hitting 9-of-18 three-pointers. The Cyclones are one of the most potent offenses in the country, ranking second in the nation in assists (18.2 APG) and seventh in scoring (84.8 PPG). In the earlier season matchup against the Jayhawks on Jan. 13, Iowa State made just 4-of-25 from deep and lost the game 77-70. That has been a common theme in this series, as in the past eight seasons in this matchup, KU is a dominant 17-1 SU, but just 10-7-1 ATS. This includes a perfect 8-0 SU mark (4-3-1 ATS) in Lawrence, but that streak was barely extended last season, as the Jayhawks needed a banked three-pointer at the buzzer of regulation to stay alive before prevailing 97-89 in overtime. The Jayhawks (9-9-1 ATS overall, 4-4-1 ATS at home) struggled a bit on offense in the non-conference portion of their schedule, but have been terrific in the Big 12, scoring 83.7 PPG on a blistering 54.9% FG and beating their conference foes by 12.3 PPG. Both clubs have favorable betting trends for this matchup, as the Cyclones are 11-0 ATS after a win by 6 points or less under the guidance of head coach Fred Hoiberg, but underdogs of 3.5 to 9.5 points after allowing 75+ points in 3+ straight contests, in a game involving two very good teams (8+ PPG margin), are a pitiful 9-38 ATS (19%) since 1997. But Kansas has more injury concerns as PF Tarik Black is questionable with an injured ankle, while C Joel Embiid has been slowed by a knee injury, but is expected to start on Wednesday night.
Will Kansas roll to another victory over a Big 12 opponent on Wednesday night? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 60% ATS (178-119-5) mark, including a stellar 63% ATS (146-85) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 64% ATS (38-21-1) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (31-14) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 62% ATS (38-23-1) for the season and 72% ATS (21-8) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Zach is a strong 59% ATS (34-24-1) on Best Bets this season, including 62% ATS (28-17) since Nov. 22. StatFox Scott is also 59% ATS (36-25) for the season and 62% ATS (26-16) since Dec. 2, while StatFox Gary is 55% ATS (32-26-2) for the season, and 61% ATS (26-17) since Nov. 29.
The Cyclones are so difficult to stop on offense because they have many guys that can score from anywhere on the field. PF Melvin Ejim (17.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.0 APG) and PG DeAndre Kane (16.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.8 APG) have been one of the best scoring duos in the nation. Kane, a Marshall transfer is one of the most complete players in the land, and he can control a game in many different ways. In the Jan. 13 loss to Kansas, he pumped in 21 points and eight rebounds with four steals, but hurt his team by making only 8-of-16 free throws. If the Cyclones are going to get a victory in this game, they must get a big performance from SF Georges Niang (15.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG). In the first meeting earlier this month, Niang scored 11 points, but was just 4-of-20 from the field. Even worse, he went 0-for-9 from three-point range. The good news is that he has been on fire in two games since that performance with 18.0 PPG on 52% FG and 8-of-13 threes (62%). The most underrated player on this Iowa State team is PF Dustin Hogue (11.9 PPG on 55% FG, 9.3 RPG). Despite being just 6-foot-6, he is relentless on the boards and will not back down from guarding anybody. While they play a frenetic style of basketball, the Cyclones do a good job of hanging on to the ball, turning it over just 10.4 times per game (24th fewest in Div. I). If Iowa State is able to control the tempo and not allow KU to go on big runs, then the Cyclones should have a chance to pull off the upset.
Kansas ranks 3rd in the nation in field goal percentage (51.0%) and 29th in scoring (79.6 PPG). Coming into the season, freshman swingman Andrew Wiggins (15.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.6 APG) got all the hype for being a lock for the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. While that might not be true anymore, he has still had a very productive first season for the Jayhawks. Wiggins is coming off a career-high 27 points in Saturday's 91-69 blowout win at TCU. Wiggins did an outstanding job of taking what the defense gave to him, scoring those points on just 13 shots from the field, going 8-of-13 FG (2-of-4 threes) and 9-of-10 FT. However, it is another freshman that is stealing the spotlight for the Jayhawks, and that is 7-foot C Joel Embiid (11.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG). He has played basketball for less than three years now, but he has shown the potential that has NBA scouts dreaming of a future star at center. He is already polished on the defensive end with 2.8 BPG, but his offensive game is improving too, as he's made 67% FG this season, making at least half of his shots in 17 straight games. Teams have been throwing double-teams at Embiid the entire season, but he is becoming better at passing out and finding open teammates. In the meeting in Ames on Jan. 13, Embiid scored 16 points on 7-of-8 FG, while adding nine rebounds, five blocks and two steals, but he also committed seven turnovers and fouled out, something he's done four times this season. Another big contributor in that victory over ISU was junior PG Naadir Tharpe (9.0 PPG, 44% threes, 5.0 APG) who took over for the Jayhawks. He finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists, and showed the poise at the end of the game that Bill Self wants in his floor general. Tharpe has been pretty quiet in the past two games though, scoring just six points on 2-of-3 FG. Freshman SG Wayne Selden Jr. (9.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 2.5 APG) has taken his game to the next level in Big 12 play, averaging 13.2 PPG and 3.3 APG. With his size and strength, Selden is a mismatch for opposing guards, and has really improved on taking the ball to the hoop, and converting 12-of-12 free throws in the past four games. The Jayhawks have other talented scorers in sophomore PF Perry Ellis (12.9 PPG, 38% threes, 6.8 RPG) and freshman SG Frank Mason (6.8 PPG) who has scored 21 points (9-of-12 FG) in 57 minutes over his past three contests.