Saturday's NCAABK Action
December 22, 2012
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Sportsbook.ag College Basketball Odds
KANSAS JAYHAWKS (9-1) at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (9-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Ohio State -4
It will be a rematch of last year's national semifinals when No. 9 Kansas travels to No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday.
These teams actually met twice last season. Kansas won both times, SU and ATS, a December home game (in which the Buckeyes played without star Jared Sullinger) and the neutral court win at the Final Four. The Jayhawks have absolutely blown out some decent opponents of late, beating Richmond by 28 on Tuesday night and Colorado by 36 two weeks ago. Ohio State's lone loss this season came at Duke. Since then it has beaten five small school opponents SU (2-2 ATS). One big factor in this game will be the Buckeyes' home court advantage. Kansas has yet to play a true road game this season, and Ohio State is 62-3 SU and 31-23-1 ATS at home over the past four seasons.
Kansas' balanced attack features an All-America-caliber, inside-outside combo. Freshman SG Ben McLemore (15.9 PPG) has proven difficult to contain, while C Jeff Withey (14.1 PPG on 59.3% FG, 8.1 RPG, 5.4 BPG) has dominated at both ends of the court. The Jayhawks have held opponents to 58.5 PPG on 35.1% FG, largely due to Withey's presence inside. On Tuesday night against Richmond, he went for 17 points on 7-for-9 FG and 13 rebounds in just 26 minutes. He's also managed to avoid any foul trouble, committing just 11 fouls in 10 games, and never more than two in a game. The Jayhawks' biggest weakness has been their lack of a consistent outside shooter. As a team, they're shooting just 33.9% 3-pt FG.
The Buckeyes have transitioned nicely from the Jared Sullinger era. SF Deshaun Thomas (30.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG) has emerged as a star on the offensive end, and SG Lenzelle Smith Jr. (11.5 PPG, 48.7% 3-pt FG) has become a serious threat on the perimeter. PG Aaron Craft (9.1 PPG, 4.8 APG) remains the best perimeter defender in college basketball, but he's struggled to become more of a scorer (37.7% FG, 33.3% 3-pt FG). This game could come down to how well the Buckeyes can contain Withey in the low post. Senior bruiser Evan Ravenel (6.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG) will be giving up about four inches to Withey. Ravenel splits time with sophomore C Amir Williams (1.3 BPG), who will have to prove he can anchor against Withey in the low post.
ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI (12-0) vs. MISSOURI TIGERS (9-1)
Sportsbook.ag Line: Missouri -1.5
The Braggin' Rights game has even more luster than usual on Saturday, as it features two of the best teams in the nation with No. 10 Illinois taking on No. 12 Missouri.
This series has been played annually since 1983, but the Tigers have had the upper hand recently with three straight victories. However, the Illini are 12-0 SU so far this season, including 4-1 ATS in non-home games. This includes an impressive double-digit win at then-No. 10 Gonzaga. Missouri has ripped off five straight wins (2-2 ATS) since its lone loss of the season to Louisville, currently ranked fifth in the nation. This game will likely be close for a while, but expect Missouri's superior depth and size (46.1 RPG, 2nd-most in nation) to eventually wear the Illini down. Also, Frank Haith is 7-2 SU in neutral-site games, and 6-3 versus top-25 opponents as the Tigers head coach.
The Illini are led by dynamic PG Brandon Paul who averages 18.8 PPG of the team's 76.9 PPG (43rd in D-I). Paul has scored in double-figures in every game, while also leading Illinois in both rebounds (5.1 RPG) and assists (3.5 APG). Illinois grabs just 36.6 RPG (129th in nation) with a weak frontcourt. Senior SG D.J. Richardson is second on the team in both scoring (11.5 PPG) and rebounding (4.6 RPG) despite standing just 6-foot-3. C Nnanna Egwu, who is 6-foot-11, blocked four shots in Sunday's 66-53 win over Eastern Kentucky, but pulled down just two boards in 28 minutes of action. Starting PF Tyler Griffey averages a mere 3.5 RPG in his 23.5 MPG.
Missouri has a couple players with experience in this rivalry. PG Phil Pressey (12.3 PPG, 5.8 APG) was the star in last year's 78-74 win with 18 points and five assists. PF Laurence Bowers (team-high 16.3 PPG) has played in this series three times, with 13 points and nine rebounds in a 75-64 Tigers victory two years ago. Bowers has been outstanding in the past four games with 19.5 PPG (62% FG, 7-of-9 threes). His 6.4 RPG is also a big reason why his team ranks 4th in the nation in rebounding margin (+13.3 RPG) and have the 7th-most offensive boards in the land (16.1 per game). C Alex Oriakhi has also been a glass eater with 8.6 RPG to go along with his 10.6 PPG (51% FG). Oregon transfer G Jabari Brown made his Tigers debut on Monday with 12 points in the 102-51 pounding of South Carolina State, but he made just 3-of-9 FG and 1-of-7 threes. Missouri makes just 33.1% of its threes with Bowers (60%) as the only player above 40% from downtown.