The fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks will try to move within a half-game of the conference-leading Houston Cougars when they visit No. 23 Texas Tech on Monday night.
Unfortunately, the Jayhawks haven’t been able to bottle up the magic of Allen Fieldhouse and take it on the road.
Kansas is 13-0 at home but just 2-4 on the highway.
Playing in a hostile environment is always challenging for these young student-athletes, regardless of how talented their teams are.
The Jayhawks are no different.
In this preview I’ll share why the Red Raiders are worthy short home favorites in this spot.
Kansas vs. Texas Tech odds
|Kansas +3.5 (-110)
|Over 144 (-110)
|Texas Tech -3.5 (-110)
|Under 144 (-110)
|Texas Tech -170
One criticism I’ve always had for Kansas under Bill Self is that they don’t like to schedule out-of-conference road games to start the season.
The Jayhawks played just one non-conference road game this season (against Indiana) and won, 75-71, but didn’t cover the 6.5-point spread.
Last season, the Jayhawks also played one non-conference road game, defeating Missouri, 95-67. Thus, I’m not surprised Kansas struggles when it has to go on the road and face quality Big 12 competition.
A closer look at the Jayhawks’ home-away splits suggests there is reason for concern. Per TeamRankings, Kansas has a 114.3 offensive efficiency rating at home but that number drops to 102.1 on the road.
If we look at their defensive efficiency, the Jayhawks have a 92.2 rating at home, which worsens to 98.4 away from Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks are worse on both ends of the court away from home, and given how Self sets his team up each season, I’d be very cautious backing the Jayhawks on the road.
Texas Tech analysis
With a 6-4 record in conference play, Texas Tech trails Houston by 1.5 games.
However, the conference standings might’ve looked a bit different if not for a three-game losing streak following a virus that made its way through the team.
Texas Tech’s 75-72 loss to Cincinnati at home was probably the most surprising of three losses. And while defeating Central Florida isn’t something Red Raiders fans shouldn’t get too excited about, it’s a step in the right direction.
Offensively, TTU has actually performed better than Kansas. Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric has the Raiders 13th with a 118.5 rating, whereas the Jayhawks are 32nd at 116.4.
When you look at some key areas, like perimeter play and foul shooting, the Red Raiders are considerably better. Texas Tech makes 8.7 3-pointers per game vs. 6.3 for Kansas, and it shoots 77.9% from the free throw line compared to 73.9% for the visitors.
The Red Raiders attempt roughly six more 3-pointers per game than Kansas – potentially putting the Jayhawks under pressure to match their scoring. Moreover, it doesn’t help that Kansas allows opponents eight 3-point field goals per game.
Given the Jayhawks’ struggles on the road, it’s tough to envision a scenario where they have a ton of success in this spot against the Red Raiders.
Kansas vs. Texas Tech pick
(9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
This handicap has more to do with Kansas than Texas Tech because there’s an apparent deficiency with the Jayhawks winning on the road.
Kansas is generally so good at home every year that they’re always in the running for the Big 12 title. However, they sometimes lack grit during the postseason, as I’m never quite sure they’re fully battle-tested.
Betting on College Basketball?
Good teams need to find a way to win in less-than-ideal situations, and yet again, Self hasn’t prepared his players well enough to do so in this spot.
After shopping around, Caesars is offering the Red Raiders at -3, and I like their chances of covering this number at home.
Pick: Texas Tech -3.5 (-110, Caesars)