Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#725 Kansas vs.
#726 UMKC
Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 5:00pm EST
Written by Blake V.

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#725 University of Kansas
#726 University of Missouri–Kansas City
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No. 2 Kansas has one game standing in the way of a No. 1-ranking in the country. The Jayhawks host the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) on Saturday afternoon at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. No. 1 Louisville lost to Texas Tech earlier this week, which puts Kansas in prime position to take over the top spot in the rankings. The Jayhawks are 8-1 and have won their last eight games. UMKC is 5-6 and has lost three of its last four games.

UMKC needing monster performance

UMKC enters Saturday’s game on a two-game losing streak. The Roos picked up a win at home against Western Illinois two weeks ago, but lost consecutive road games following that victory. The first loss came at the Hilton against Iowa State in a 79-61 decision. Their most recent outing was an 82-73 road loss against McNeese State. The Cowboys got a triple-double from Sha’markus Kennedy (17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks) in the win. UMKC led by nine points at halftime, but could not keep pace in the second half.

The Roos are led by senior forward Javan White, who is scoring 12.0 points per game and grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game. He is 20 of 32 from the charity stripe and is picking up 3.1 fouls per contest. Junior guard Brandon McKissic is adding 9.3 points per game and a team-high 2.3 assists per game. He is the most efficient 3-point shooter on the team, making 11 of 28 attempts from beyond the arc. Junior guard Marvin Nesbitt Jr. is scoring 9.1 points per game and is adding 4.1 rebounds per outing. Rob Whitfield is scoring 8.8 points per game and Jahshire Hardnett is contributing 8.1 points per contest.

Kansas seeking top spot in rankings

No. 2 Kansas opened the season with a narrow 68-66 loss to No. 4 Duke at Madison Square Garden. It has been smooth sailing for the Jayhawks since that loss, though, as they have won their last eight games. The winning streak includes an overtime win against Dayton and a 14-point win against No. 20 Colorado. Their most recent outing was a 95-68 win against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Kansas covered the spread as a 26-point favorite and were leading by 25 points at halftime.

The Jayhawks are led by sophomore guard Devon Dotson, who is scoring 19.8 points per game. He is also averaging a team-high 5.0 assists per game. Senior center Udoka Azubuike is close to averaging a double-double, scoring 14.8 points per game and grabbing 8.4 rebounds per game. The 7-footer is struggling at the free throw line, only shooting 37.1 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji is adding 12.1 points per game and is grabbing 5.2 rebounds per game. He is the best 3-point shooter on the team, making 20 of 49 attempts from downtown. Junior guard Marcus Garrett is also scoring 9.0 points per game and dishing out 4.6 assists per contest.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Kansas is actually traveling farther to the Sprint Center in this game than UMKC, but it will still be a home game for the Jayhawks. However, I think UMKC will hang in this game and cover the large spread. The Roos will need a big day from Javan White, who is going to need to score the ball and stay out of foul trouble against Azubuike on the other end of the floor. Kansas has a massive game on the road against Villanova next week, which could provide a look-ahead spot in this one. The Jayhawks will also be playing in an unfamiliar arena, which could lead to a slow start.

Prediction: UMKC +22

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:

Rating:

UMKC is one of the slowest-paced teams in the country, ranking No. 274 in KenPom’s adjusted tempo ratings. The Roos defense is slightly better than their offense, so they need a big defensive performance to hang around against one of the best teams in the country. Kansas will try to run up and down the court a little more, coming in at No. 115 in adjusted tempo. The Jayhawks’ defense ranks No. 9 in the nation. UMKC does not attempt many 3-pointers and are not efficient from downtown. I like this game to go under the total in an unfamiliar arena for both teams.

Prediction: Under 134.5
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Written By Blake V.

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and hoops junkie. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with the knack for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.