Game: Providence Friars @ Kansas Jayhawks
Time: 7:29 p.m. ET
Odds: Friars +7.5, Jayhawks -7.5
Like Purdue, Kansas has what appears to be a pretty easy path to the Final Four. In the way tonight stands Providence which surprised everyone by winning the Big East Conference regular-season championship for the first time ever. The Friars finished 27-5 on the season and have actually thrived in the role of underdog this season.
Kansas won the Big 12 regular season and conference tournament titles. The Jayhawks are back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2018, which is also the last time Kansas advanced to the Final Four. The Jayhawks have won their last seven games in a row beating Texas Southern in the first round of March Madness and Creighton in Round 2. Kansas has covered the spread in five of its last six games and they are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as the favorite.
Providence, as mentioned, has done well in the role of underdog. In fact, the Friars have been one of the top underdogs to back this season. Providence is 7-2 SU and 8-1 ATS in nine games as an underdog this season. The Friars are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games. Their last game as an underdog was on Mar. 1 against Villanova. Two of the Friars’ five losses this season came against the Wildcats. In the Mar. 1 game, Villanova was a 10-point favorite. Providence lost by two 76-74.
The Friars will have their hands full with Kansas guards Remy Martin and leading scorer Ochai Agbaji who scores 19.3 points per game. Martin has shot 13-of-22 and has a total of 35 points in the Jayhawks’ two March Madness games. Both can push the tempo which is why Kansas is among the top 25 scoring teams in the nation. Providence will likely try to slow the game’s tempo and shorten the game.
Unfortunately, that strategy might not work against Kansas. The Jayhawks have been playing outstanding defense as of late. In their current seven-game winning streak, only one opponent has scored over 68 points. Kansas is allowing 64.1 points per game during that stretch. With Martin and Agbaji, the Jayhawks’ half-court offense is just as good as the transition game.
With tonight’s total at 141.5, it appears that oddsmakers believe Providence will have some success in slowing down the game’s tempo. The Friars are not an up-tempo team, though they can play fast when needed. Both of their tournament games thus far have gone Under. Four of the last six Providence games have gone Under to the total. The Friars have played six neutral site games this year and four of them have seen the total go Under.
Kansas leans Over with a 19-15-2 O/U record for the season. Their first March Madness game went Under since they held Texas Southern to just 56 points. The 79-72 win over Creighton went Over. In 10 neutral site games for Kansas this season, the Over is 6-3-1.