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March Madness Team Betting Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

by March 16, 2021

Betting Preview: Kansas Jayhawks 

  • Record: 20-8
  • ATS: 14-12-1
  • O/U: 12-14-1
  • Points Scored/Game: 73.1 (120th overall)
  • Points Allowed/Game: 65.7 (56th overall)
  • Outright Odds: +4000 BettingPros Consensus

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Team Strengths 

The Jayhawks are an excellent defensive team. Kansas is ranked 6th in adjusted-defensive efficiency by KenPom and 8th by Torvik. They’re particularly stingy in the interior, where they’re holding opponents to just 45.9% shooting. Center David McCormack is a force in the middle and is a big reason why Kansas has the 61st-best shot-blocking rate in the country. Kansas’ defense has gotten even better as of late, as it ranks 2nd in the country in its last 10 games, per Torvik.

Offensively, Kansas doesn’t do anything particularly well. But they do pull down offensive rebounds at a 30.9% clip. The Jayhawks finished the year hot, at least, winning eight of their last nine games. They could’ve been poised for another Big 12 run if not for a positive COVID test.

Team Weaknesses

Unlike last year’s team that would’ve been a huge favorite to win it all, this isn’t Bill Self’s most talented bunch. Kansas can really struggle to shoot and rank 183rd in effective shooting percentage.

The Jayhawks also could be shorthanded in Indianapolis due to COVID-19 protocols. Kansas was already missing McCormack and sophomore Tristan Enaruna during the Big 12 Tournament. Now, they’ll likely be without their leading rebounder, freshman Jalen Wilson, for at least their first-round game against Eastern Washington. Self said the team would travel to Indy without three players, which seems to be Wilson, McCormack, and Enaruna. Self said the latter two could join the team in Indy later in the week.

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Why They’ll Win It All 

Defense and spectacular efforts from guards Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett. Over their last nine games, Kansas has only allowed more than 67 points once, and that was when Texas scored 75 against them in overtime. That run includes holding Baylor to 58 points and Oklahoma State to 66 points.

Agbaji proved he’s capable of getting hot when he put up 26 in Kansas’ win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament. And Garrett offers a steady hand at the wheel of the offense while offering plenty of playmaking ability.

Plus, Self is one of the best coaches in the country who has his team playing well at the right time. It’s not an elite Kansas team, but the pieces are there to get to the second weekend.

Why They Won’t Win It All 

Kansas is in big trouble if both McCormack and Wilson miss the opening weekend. They should have enough to get past Eastern Washington in the first round, but a potential matchup with USC’s Evan Mobley is terrifying without McCormack handling the middle. Kansas’ elite defense loses a ton of its bite without its starting frontcourt.

Plus, it’s hard to trust that the Jayhawks will get enough consistent scoring to keep up with teams in their bracket like Iowa and Gonzaga.

Kansas Jayhawks March Madness Prediction 

Kansas is tough to predict because of its COVID issues. Either way, this team’s ceiling is the Sweet Sixteen, as its lack of scoring options will kill them against elite opponents.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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