Game: Iowa State Cyclones @ Kansas Jayhawks
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Cyclones +11.5, Jayhawks -11.5
It’s a matchup of Top 25 teams at Allen Fieldhouse on the campus of the University of Kansas tonight. The 15th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones will face off with Big 12 rival and No. 9 Kansas. The Cyclones weren’t supposed to be this good. They were actually picked to finish last in the Big 12 this season. That, of course, seems unlikely but Iowa State has lost two of its last three games. They were both conference games. The Cyclones dropped a 77-72 decision to No. 1 Baylor and a 79-66 defeat at the hands of an Oklahoma program on the rise.
The reason for Iowa State’s sudden rise in the polls is its defense. In adjusted defensive efficiency, the Cyclones are ranked No. 6 in the nation. They are allowing just 58.4 points per game, which ranks No. 13 nationally. What stands out for Iowa State is how it defends the three-point shot. Opponents are making just 26.2 percent of their three-point field goal attempts. That is a number that seems unsustainable for the entire season.
Kansas, which lost to Texas Tech 75-67 on Saturday, had previously won eight in a row. One of the Jayhawks’ strengths is shooting from behind the arc. Kansas ranks 34th in the nation in three-point field goal percentage. Surely, Iowa State will be challenged by the Jayhawks tonight.
The Jayhawks aren’t all that bad on defense either, but they do like to play at a much faster tempo. Kansas ranks 54th in adjusted tempo and it shows in their scoring numbers. The Jayhawks average 83.1 points per game, which is 13th-best in the country. Ochai Agbaji leads Kansas scoring 20.5 points per game. Christian Braun adds 16.4 points per game and is the only other Jayhawks player that scores in double figures. Head coach Bill Self uses nine players for more than 11 minutes per game.
Despite being 13-2 and ranked No. 15, the Cyclones enter tonight’s game as an 11-point underdog. It is the third time in their last four games that Iowa State has been the underdog. The Cyclones were the dog against both Baylor and Oklahoma. They did cover against the Bears but not against the Sooners.
The Cyclones have been good against the number this season. In their last 12 games, Iowa State is 8-4 ATS. They have not done well against the Jayhawks though. In the past five games against Kansas, the Cyclones are just 1-4 ATS. Kansas is 5-3 ATS in its last eight games. In their last game as a double-digit favorite, Kansas failed to cover in a win over George Mason as a 19.5-point favorite. The Jayhawks are 8-1-1 ATS in their last ten Big 12 conference games.
Despite being so good defensively, the total has gone Over in three of the last four Cyclones games. The total has gone Over in each of the last ten Iowa State-Kansas games.