Game 23: No. 23 Kansas at Kansas State – Preview and Prediction

After three straight wins and victories in four of their last five, the Kansas Jayhawks are back in the polls this week, coming in at No. 23. The Jayhawks finish off their stretch against the Big 12’s cupcakes when they travel to Manhattan on Wednesday night to take on in-state rival Kansas State. The Jayhawks walloped K-Satte back on February 2nd by a score of 74-51. The Wildcats come into the matchup losers of their last 12 contests and sit 9th in the Big 12 standings. 

  • Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, 7:00 PM CDT
  • Bramlage Coliseum – Manhattan, Kan.  
  • ESPN+
  • KU is vying to win its 10th league game for the 27th consecutive season. The current 26-year streak with 10-plus league wins is the longest active streak in the nation. KU has won 10 conference games 57 times overall.
  • Kansas is 9-5 in Big 12 play, which is tied for the most wins in the league with Baylor (9-0). KU is third in the league standings, just behind Oklahoma (8-4). 
  • Kansas is No. 11 in NET nationally in strength of schedule, which is second in the Big 12 behind Iowa State at No. 4. To show how tough the Big 12 is, Kansas’ NET is No. 20, which is fifth in the conference. 
  • Kansas’ 11 Quadrant 1 games played in 2020-21 are tied for the most in the Big 12 with West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas State. The 11 Q1 games played rank tied for third nationally. Kansas is 4-7 versus Quadrant 1 teams, 3-0 vs. Q2, 1-0 vs. Q3, 5-0 vs. Q4. 
  • Five of Kansas’ seven losses have been to ranked teams and the other two losses are to teams that have moved into the top 25 of either the Associated Press or Coaches’ polls (at Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State).
  • Redshirt-freshman Jalen Wilson ranks third in the Big 12 in rebounding at 7.8 boards per game, which is first among league freshmen. His seven double-doubles are second overall in the Big 12. He has four straight DDs which is a KU freshman record.
  • Junior David McCormack leads Kansas in Big 12 scoring at 14.2 ppg and he is averaging 16.4 points in his last seven games with two double-doubles. His five double-doubles this season are third most in the Big 12. 

Wildcats to Watch

Nijel Pack  – 6’0”, freshman, guard
Pack leads the Wildcats in scoring at 12.6 PPG and is averaging 17.6 PPG over his last five contests. Pack also leads the squad in assists at 3.5 APG. The freshman can fill it up from the outside, as he’s shooting 41.5 percent from deep. Over the last five games, he’s shooting 51 percent from deep.. On a team that lacks offense, Pack has been really good this year, particularly as of late, and his future is bright.

Mike McGuirl – 6’2”, senior, guard
McGuirl profiles similar to Pack. In fact, they have a near-identical statline, as he averages 11.7 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.5 RPG and shoots 33.1 percent from three. In 15 games at home this season, McGuirl is averaging 13.6 PPG, including an 18-point performance against last Texas last Tuesday.

Jayhawk Pick to Click

Jalen Wilson – 6’8”, sophomore, guard
It’s no wonder that Kansas’ better play has coincided with Wilson’s hot stretch. Over the last five games, Wilson has averaged 15 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and has shot 42.8 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three. He’s also recorded four-straight double-doubles, including a 22-point, 10-rebound outburst against Iowa State last Saturday. I’ll go with Wilson to lead the way again for the Jayhawks.

Prediction

As our fearless leader Ryan Landreth has pointed out on the RCB Twitter account (go follow it), expecting a blowout at K-State may seem obvious, but based on past history, it’s dangerous to do so. In Bill Self’s 13 wins at Bramlage Coliseum, KU has won by an average of just seven points. That tidbit of information has me a little hesitant of picking KU to cover that 13-point spread. Kansas has only defeated Kansas State in Manhattan by more than 13 twice in 17 years under Self, and KU hasn’t won by more than 14 out there at any point in this regime.

It’s also worth noting that this is probably the worst Kansas State team that Kansas has played in any of the now-18 games at Bramlage Coliseum. They are outside the top 300 in so many different categories (shooting, points, free throws, rebounds, three-point shooting, etc.) Unless the Wildcats shoot the ball well from three, it’s hard to foresee how they keep this any shade of close. However, K-State typically plays over their heads when KU comes to town, and you know that this is the game they have circled on their calendars. The Wildcats, and their fans, will not care at all about their dozen-game losing streak if they can pull off an upset over the hated Jayhawks.

I do believe that KU will win. K-State won’t have nearly the home crowd advantage as they usually do, but I do think the Wildcats will be up for this win despite having such a lousy year. I don’t expect K-State to shoot as poorly as they did at Allen Fieldhouse, and their average margin of defeat over their last three games has been just seven points. So I’ll go with K-State to cover, but straight up, I’ll roll with the Jayhawks to pick up their fourth-straight win.

Kansas 73, Kansas State 64
Kansas State +13

AUDIO PREVIEW: LINK

Season Record: 16-6 (13-9 ATS)

Bobby Norell

My name is Bobby Norell. I'm from a small town in northern Indiana. I recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Sport Communication. Even though my diploma says I'm a Hoosier, my love for the Jayhawks has never wavered. They'll always come No.1.

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