Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 10:39 PM
It was quite a surprise two weeks ago when the Kansas Jayhawks lost outright at home to Oklahoma State. Many sports bettors were on the live dog…but few were calling for an outright upset at such a high price. It’s one thing to think Kansas is overpriced. It’s another to imagine them losing at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence. That almost never happens!
Then, it was an even bigger surprise (one of the biggest pointspread surprises in YEARS) a few days later when Kansas was stunned by lowly TCU. The Horned Frogs hadn’t even won a Big 12 game yet, but they shocked the league power. Head coach Bill Self was speechless after the game, suggesting it was the worst team Kansas had ever put on the floor in their long and storied history.
This past Saturday afternoon, when it was time for the Jayhawks to throw a big stop sign in front of this losing streak, Kansas lost AGAIN as a favorite to Oklahoma!
Which is the bigger stunner?
Kansas losing at home
Kansas losing to TCU
Kansas losing three in a row
They say bad things come in three’s. Kansas is hoping that’s an omen signaling that good times are ahead. There’s no better way to start a good streak than at home against your state rival. Particularly when that stat rival is now sitting in first place in your conference!
Kansas State at Kansas is part of ESPN’s Big Monday doubleheader. Let’s run the matchup through our ringer of indicators to see how things might play out.
K-State: 19-4 (8-2 in the Big 12)
Kansas: 19-4 (7-3 in the Big 12)
That three-game losing streak has dropped Kansas back to even with K-State for the season. They’ve fallen behind them in the standings in the Big 12. But, we need to remember that Kansas won their first meeting on the ROAD. That certainly speaks well for their chances to snap out of their funk Monday Night. And, should Kansas do that, they would regain first place in the league because a series sweep takes the tie-breaker at 8-3. This is such a huge game for the state and the conference as a whole. Could Kansas really drop FOUR in a row and fall two games off the pace in the league race?
K-State: #23 with Sagarin, #31 with Pomeroy
Kansas: #10 with Sagarin, #15 with Pomeroy
The computers (Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy) still have Kansas as the better side overall. But, that’s because the team was very strong in pre-conference action. If you score a win on the road at Ohio State, you’re going to look great in the computers! Kansas State is starting to sneak up to where they matter in the seeding process. A win in Lawrence would really make a statement.
COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
K-State: #50 with Sagarin, #60 with Pomeroy
Kansas: #15 with Sagarin, #31 with Pomeroy
Big edge here for the hosts, who are the more battle-tested side. Kansas State couldn’t even win at home vs. this team. Are they ready to lift their games on the road in their toughest challenge of the season? It’s true that Kansas looked great in the computers before losing to Okie State, TCU, and Oklahoma. We can’t forget the team’s overall pedigree just yet.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN’S TOP 50
Edge to Kansas, who ironically doesn’t take a hit here since TCU isn’t a top 50 team! It’s already clear that the trick for handicappers and sports bettors Monday Night is determining how much the recent slump should impact your overall decision process. Kansas is clearly the better team this season. They’re clearly not the better team the past two weeks.
JOE LUNARDI’S BRACKETOLOGY
K-State: projected #4 seed
Kansas: projected #2 seed
Kansas may drop to a #3 by the time you read this. At our publishing deadline, they were still on the #2 rung. Lunardi has Kansas State rated higher than the computers do. A win here would lock that in.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
Moving now to the chess match…both teams have decent but not overpowering offenses. And, obviously Kansas State looked nothing like a top 30 offense in TCU the other night. These teams played a slow grinder in their first meeting…suggesting that both offenses have problems when they’re facing good teams in high pressure situations. We need to make the point again…rankings in the 25-35 range on offense or defense are very strong on a scale of 300 teams, but not impressive if you’re only talking about the top 40-50 teams. In DANCE terms, both teams need to work on execution and efficiency.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
This is where Kansas has historically separated themselves from the pack in the Big 12. Their defensive ability gets hidden because they play at a fast tempo. When you adjust for pace and caliber of opposition, Kansas is historically a top defense. Big edge here…and one they’ll certainly need to take advantage of. The nexus of the chess match to us revolves around the ability of Kansas to attack the basket and score against this vulnerable Kansas State defense.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
You’ve seen how important this particular element has been in different days. The home team typicaly forces their tempo in big games…and that can leave the visitor exasperated because they’re so far out of their comfort zone. It’s bad enough playing on the road. Playing on the road at an uncomfortable tempo can cause things to really blow up. Kansas will be focused on pushing the pace so they can get easy baskets (in bunches) against the softer K-State defense. The visitors will be hoping to slow things down so they can try to win a late coin flip. Notre Dame slowed down Louisville to win a late coin flip this past Saturday. But, that was at home. Can K-State do it in Lawrence?
Based on the data today, and what we’ve seen since we started these daily forecasts for you here in the NOTEBOOK, the “best expectation” is for Kansas to push tempo, take K-State out of its gameplan, and pull away to a victory. The problem with that line of thinking is that this “version” of Kansas may not exist any more! They’ve been missing in action the past week and a half. If the confidence is shot for this group of Jayhawks, then the season-long math just doesn’t matter.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his Big 12 sources to get the right read on the Kansas mindset. He’ll could easily play this game in either direction based on what he’s learned. Kansas State can upset demoralized Kansas. The Kansas we had grown used to seeing earlier can coast to a double digit win at the right tempo.
You can purchase the final Monday slate right here at the website in the hours before tipoff. Other games we’re looking at on the Monday schedule include:
Marquette at Georgetown on ESPN
TCU at Oklahoma on ESPNU (the last two teams to beat Kansas!)
Brooklyn at Indiana in the NBA
San Antonio at Chicago
LA Clippers at Philadelphia
Representatives are available during regular business hours to talk to you about season service. The number to call is 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you Tuesday for a complete breakdown of Kentucky at Florida. This is a game college basketball fans have been waiting all year for because it’s been so hard to get a true read on both teams. Is Florida really a superpower? Or, are they just the best team in a bad conference? Is Kentucky going to finish strong as their young stars finally get the hang of playing together? HUGE GAME!
In the biggest games in college basketball, you need to hook up with the biggest name in sports handicapping. That’s JIM HURLEY of JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!