2013 College Basketball Picks: Kansas @ Kansas St Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NCAA Basketball Picks 1/22/2013: The top spot in the Big 12 will be up for grabs when the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks (16-1, 4-0 Big 12) head to Manhattan to face the 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats (15-2, 4-0 Big 12) Tuesday night. The game is a battle between the only Big 12 teams with unblemished conference records, and it is also a battle between two hot teams. Kansas brings a 15-game winning streak into the meeting and its lone loss came to a ranked Michigan State team early in the year. Kansas State has won eight in a row in its own right with its two losses coming to a pair of ranked foes in Gonzaga and Michigan. The winner of Tuesday’s matchup is going to be in early driver’s seat for the Big 12 title, and as winners of the last eight conference crowns, the Jayhawks are 3 ½-point favorites on the road.

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For Kansas, balance has been the key to another successful season. The Jayhawks currently rank in the top 40 nationally in scoring, rebounding, assists and field goal percentage. They aren’t too shabby defensively either, allowing less than 60 points per game. Freshman guard Ben McClemore has emerged as go-to scorer for the offense, leading the team with 16.4 points on 50.8 percent shooting. Meanwhile, senior center Jeff Withey provides the muscles inside, averaging 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. Throw in the experience and athleticism of fellow seniors Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson, and the Jayhawks have a rock solid roster and no glaring weaknesses.

Although Kansas State doesn’t have a lot of size or depth in the frontcourt, four quality guards lead a speedy lineup that gets after it on the defensive end. In fact, Kansas State is allowing less than 58 points per game to opponents. On the flip side, the Wildcats are not a pretty basketball team on the offensive end of the court. They currently rank 135th in the country in scoring and 172nd in field goal percentage. Leading scorer Rodney McGruder is the only player averaging in double figures, and he has made more than twice as many baskets as any other play on the team.

The Jayhawks Win If:

Kansas has a huge advantage in the frontcourt with Withey, and if the big man is dialed in, the Jayhawks are going to be in business. The Wildcats use a guard-heavy lineup, and in fact, they don’t even have a big man averaging 20 minutes per game. If Withey is getting easy baskets in the paint and the Jayhawks are playing through the post to get open looks on the perimeter, the Kansas offense is going to be putting points up in bunches and putting serious pressure on the modest Kansas State offense. Defensively, Kansas needs Withey to protect the rim and make the Wildcats a jump-shooting team. The Jayhawks also need to use their multitude of athletic defenders to wear down McGruder. At the end of the day, Kansas comes away with the rode win if its gets its offense rolling and forces the Wildcats to try to keep pace with perimeter shots.

The Wildcats Win If:

Kansas State is going to have issues matching up with Withey on the defensive end, but if the Wildcats can pull the Kansas center away from the hoop with their guard-heavy attack on offense, they could create some mismatches of their own. More importantly, the Wildcats need to take care of the ball and wait for quality looks to prevent the Jayhawks from getting quick scoring chances. Defensively, Kansas State needs to make life tough on the Kansas perimeter players, forcing them into contested jumpers rather than letting them get to the basket and use their athleticism. In general, the Wildcats need to make the game a low-scoring defensive battle if they want to pull off the upset.

The Bottom Line:

Plain and simple, the Wildcats just don’t have the offensive firepower that the Jayhawks have, and they have struggled against higher-scoring teams. Both Michigan and Gonzaga rank in the top 10 nationally in points per game and in the top five in field goal percentage, and Kansas State lost to those teams by 14 and 16 points, respectively. Granted, Kansas isn’t quite as explosive offensively as those teams, but the Jayhawks have more than weapons on offense to overwhelm the Wildcats. More importantly, the Jayhawks have the athletic defenders to wear out McGruder just as they wore down Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas in a victory over the Buckeyes. Throw in the huge matchup advantage with Withey in the post at both ends, and Kansas will take control of the Big 12 by taking down the Wildcats on the road.

Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks (-3 ½) Cover the Spread

Kansas @ Kansas St
Line: Kansas -3.5
Total: Over/Under 128
Time: 8:00 PM EST

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