Kansas vs. USC (-1.5)
Kansas meets USC for the final game of the NCAA Tournament's round of 32. Kansas opened its first matchup with Eastern Washington in rather embarrassing fashion, while USC was a step ahead of Drake in that matchup.
The two teams have not met since 2011. Kansas is 9-5 all-time against USC and won the last three (2011, 2010, 2007) meetings from 2007 on.
Since 2011, the No. 3 seed has dominated the No. 6 seed. The series is 13-2 with eight straight wins in favor of the higher seed. 10 of the 14 games were decided by double-digits, with seven decided by one possession. Arkansas won Sunday, cashing for us and keeping the streak alive. Kansas is next.
No. 3 Arkansas 68, No. 6 Texas Tech 66
No. 3 LSU 69, No. 6 Maryland 67
No. 3 Texas Tech 78, No. 6 Buffalo 58
No. 3 Purdue 87, No. 6 Villanova 61
No. 3 Texas Tech 69, No. 6 Florida 66
No. 3 Michigan 64, No. 6 Houston 63
No. 3 UCLA 79, No. 6 Cincinnati 67
No. 3 Notre Dame 67, No. 6 Butler 64 (OT)
No. 6 Baylor 85, No. 3 Creighton 55
No. 3 Iowa State 85, No. 6 North Carolina 83
No. 3 Michigan State 70, No. 6 Memphis 48
No. 3 Marquette 74, No. 6 Butler 72
No. 6 Cincinnati 62, No. 3 Florida State 56
No. 3 Marquette 62, No. 6 Murray State 53
No. 3 UConn 69, No. 6 Cincinnati 58
Evan Mobley versus David McCormack. That will be the biggest headline in this matchup. Mobley recorded 17 points, six rebounds and three blocks versus Drake. McCormack returned to the Jayhawks against Eastern Washington and recorded 22 points, nine rebounds, two steals and one block.
Kansas' Jalen Wilson will play versus USC per the Kansas City Star. Wilson is not 100% healthy heading into the game. The 6-foot-8 freshman will be a positive factor as long as he plays in spurts. I would not expect more than 20-25 minutes. Tristan Enaruna will be out for Kansas, but he only averages 9.4 minutes, 2.8 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Both teams are top four in the NCAA Tournament in regards to height. USC is the second-tallest team (79.4) and Kansas is fourth (78.2). Both teams rank 306th (Kansas) and 338th (USC) in average defensive possession length and top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Slow and tough defenses on both ends.
When I examine the offenses, I side with Kansas in this matchup. Over the last 10 games, Kansas is slightly rebounding better, making more free-throws and allowing less points. They both average about the same amount in turnovers and USC is shooting at a higher rate.
The Trojans have the edge shooting the three-ball, something the Jayhawks do a good job at limiting. Kansas ranked second in the Big 12 with 32.1% allowed from three.
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Kansas limited Baylor to 6-of-26 (18.8%) and Texas to 5-of-26 (19.2%) in two of the last five games. Eastern Washington went 7-of-14 (50%) in the first-half then 3-of-12 (25%) in the second-half. None of Kansas' last five opponents-plus have been able to hit the three for both halves and I expect that to continue here as USC can be streaky from deep.
The Jayhawks are 7-2-1 ATS (70%) in the last 10 games. They did not cover the last two games against Eastern Washington and UTEP, both because of slow starts. I expect Kansas to get out to a better first 20 minutes in this matchup and the boost of the 6-foot-8 Wilson will be a positive for the Jayhawks camaraderie and sizing versus USC.
Bill Self is 49-20 SU (71%) in the NCAA Tournament for a career and that is also something to consider in backing or fading the Jayhawks. USC is 15-19 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 3-2 under Head Coach Andy Enfield after the Drake victory. USC beat SMU (66-65) but lost to Baylor (82-78) for a chance at the Sweet 16 in 2017.
Enfield has never taken USC to the Sweet 16, so today could be the first. Kansas made the Sweet 16 in three of the last four NCAA Tournaments.
USC is 3-7 ATS (30%) in the last 10 games and 5-5 ATS (50%) on the road this season. The Trojans are 5-4 SU (55.5%) in the previous nine games.
I will back the No. 3 versus No. 6 trend and Bill Self's coaching. Kansas is hot, winning nine of its last 10 games with the only loss coming in OT. Despite the moving parts and COVID concerns, Kansas has remained competitive and continued winning.
If this game comes down to a few possessions, I favor the veteran team with Hall of Fame coaching, no knock on Enfield. USC has the talent, but if the three ball does not fall, the Trojans will fall with it.
Game Pick: Kansas +1.5 (1u) - I would play Kansas ML if it becomes a pick-em
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