As teams begin to wrap up their out of conference schedules, No. 14 Texas Tech boasts one of the strongest defenses in college basketball, allowing the second fewest points per game at just 51.6. They’re in for a big test in their Big 12 schedule debut on Thursday night when they host No. 5 Kansas.
As of Thursday morning, Bovada had the Red Raiders set as 2.5-point home favorites with the Over/Under at 133.5.
Can the Red Raiders Slow Down the Jayhawks?
While Texas Tech’s defense has been one of the top stories in the country so far this season, a battle against this Kansas offense will be a true measuring stick. Kansas ranks 50th in the country in points per game despite facing three ranked teams already this season.
The Jayhawks are able to put up points in bunches, sporting an impressive three-point field goal percentage of 37.8. Texas Tech has been able to limit the long ball so far this season, keeping teams to a shooting percentage of just 25.4 from beyond the arc.
The biggest cause for concern regarding the Red Raiders entering this game is that they haven’t had the tough schedule that other teams have faced so far. They’ve played just one ranked team, No. 17 Houston. That game also happened to be their only loss as they fell to the Cougars 64-53.
Despite playing a weaker schedule to-date, the Red Raiders have still got the job done in most games. They’re 4-2 ATS this season against non-ranked opponents.
Kansas is 0-3 ATS vs Ranked Opponents
Despite entering this game with a 6-1 straight up record, the Jayhawks haven’t been a great team at the betting window this season. They enter the game with a lowly 2-4 ATS record (their game against Division 2 Washburn didn’t have a spread).
Not only is Kansas 2-4 ATS, but they’re 0-3 ATS when facing ranked teams. After losing to No. 1 Gonzaga by double-digit points in their opening game, they managed to take down both No. 20 Kentucky and No. 8 Creighton but failed to cover the spread in both wins.
A bright spot for Kansas has been freshman forward Jalen Wilson who has been the key piece to their offense this season. He’s been averaging 15.3 points per game and an impressive 8.7 rebounds per game. His matchup with Texas Tech’s senior forward Marcus Santos-Silva will certainly be one to watch.
Pick: Kansas +2.5
Despite Texas Tech coming into this game with one of the most dominant defenses in the country, more matchups against ranked teams are a must before we can get a true feel for just how strong their defense is. Houston managed to put up 64 points against them earlier this season, so you can expect Kansas to have just as much success. It’s surprising to see Kansas set as the underdog here.
One of the strengths of the Jayhawks this season has been rebounding. They rank 32nd in the nation in rebounding percentage, cleaning up the boards at a rate of 55.9 percent. Texas Tech, despite having a much easier schedule, ranks just 50th in rebounding. Kansas being able to grab offensive boards may be the key to overcoming the smothering Red Raiders defense.
In what should be a fun defensive battle and an exciting start to the Big 12 schedule, backing the team that is entering the game much more battle-tested seems to be the move to make.
With the total set at 133.5, the UNDER seems like the smart bet if you don’t want to wager on a side. Not only do they play solid defense, but Texas Tech plays one of the slowest paces in the country ranking 240th in field goals attempted per game and 237th in possessions per game.
Whichever team comes out on top will prove to be a true contender in the Big 12.