No. 3 Kansas takes on No. 14 Eastern Washington in what should be an intriguing matchup. The start of this game is what I have my eyes on, as Eastern Washington (EWU) has been a stellar first-half team, while Kansas is off-and-on.
Friday's action turned in plenty of action, upsets and what I noticed was slow first half starts. The Jayhawks will have their hands full with the Eagles. Kansas' last two first rounds combined for 59 and 62 points. The total is set at 67.5 today and -6 in favor of the Jayhawks.
KANSAS' LAST THREE FIRST ROUND FIRST HALVES OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
KU 37, NORTHEASTERN 25 (62 Points)
KU 33, PENN 26 (59 Points)
KU 50, UC DAVIS 28 (78 Points)
Over the last three, Kansas' spread has cashed and the Under 67.5 won the last two times. They have covered the last five spreads in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas' defense has 311st ranked defensive average length of possession this season. EWU is 292nd. Both teams try to play fast on offense. However, Kansas is without Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna, but welcome back David McCormack.
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The offense will have to slow down to find some rhythm and I expect a slow start from one or both teams. I believe Kansas attempt to utilize its size difference versus EWU out the gate. Kansas' last three games entering this have featured low-scoring first-halves.
KANSAS' LAST THREE FIRST-HALVES
KU 35, OKLAHOMA 15 (50 Points)
UTEP 34, KU 20 (54 Points)
KU 33, BAYLOR 30 (63 Points)
EWU has owned its last three opponents in the first half and is the sixth-best scoring team in the opening 20 minutes (39.7 PPG). However, over the last three games, the number has hit Under 67.5 in all three.
EWU's LAST THREE FIRST-HALVES
EWU 38, MONTANA ST 24 (62 Points)
EWU 44, MONTANA 15 (59 Points)
EWU 37, NORTHERN ARIZONA 30 (67 Points)
However, versus Pac-12 teams, EWU was able to run up the score and compete with Oregon, Arizona and Washington State. EWU has the talent and tempo to compete with Kansas in the first-half, leaving me to lean the Under and EWU +6 in the first half.
EWU VS PAC-12 TEAMS
OREGON 36, EWU 33 (69 Points)
EWU 43, ARIZONA 38 (81 Points)
EWU 39, WASHINGTON ST 33 (69 Points)
NBC Sports Edge's tools and projections like the Under for Kansas and the spread for Eastern Washington. The UNDER is 30-18-1 (62.5%) in Kansas' last 49 games as a favorite. For EWU, the Eagles are 22-7-1 ATS (75.9%) in its last 30 games against teams with a winning ML record.
EWU is 0-9 all-time versus Big 12 opponents and Kansas has covered its last five NCAA Tournament First Round matchups. I grabbed the first half Under 67.5 (-110) and would not play past 67. I expect one or both of these teams to struggle out the gate, especially with Kansas' rotation taking hits left and right.
Game Pick: First Half Under 67.5 (1u)
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