By RICHARD CHEEKS
For the record, the Cats have now posted three consecutive very strong performances since their inexplicable loss at Auburn 2 weeks ago. The last two games, against Vanderbilt and Missouri in Rupp Arena represented back to back season bests for this team. On Saturday evening, the Cats will venture into the Phog in Lawrence, Kansas to find out if their new found surge to high performance levels can be sustained in a hostile environment against one of the Marquee college basketball programs of all time.
Kansas brings a 16-4 record into this Big12-SEC showdown matchup with the Cats, who also sport a 16-4 record. Kansas has suffered losses t #7 Michigan State by 6 in November, at #6 West Virginia by 11, at #68 Oklahoma State by 19, and at #11 Iowa State by 13. Kansas claims wins over #1 Oklahoma by 3 in triple OT, #25 Baylor by 28, #31 Vanderbilt by 7. In addition to Vanderbilt, Kansas and Kentucky have both played #67 UCLA. Of course, the Cats fell at UCLA while Kansas defeated the Bruins by 19 on a neutral court.
KANSAS has played its first 20 games at an average tempo of about 72 to 73 possessions per game, scoring 82.1 ppg (1.131 ppp) and allowing an average 69.1 ppg (0.955 ppp). KANSAS has turned the ball over on 16.2% of its possessions while forcing turnovers on 19.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, KANSAS has secured an offensive rebounding rate of 31.2%, and a defensive rebounding rate of 73.8%.
In contrast, the Cats have averaged about 70 possessions per game, producing 77.9 ppg (1.115 ppp) and allowing 66.4 ppg (0.942 ppp). The Cats have committed turnovers on 17.5% of its possessions and forced turnovers on 19.1% of opponent possessions. On the Boards, the Cats’ rebounding rates have been 39.8% and 70.1% on the offensive and defensive ends.
Based on this distribution, the analysis tips in favor of Kansas by 8 points, 78-70 in a game played at a pace of 71 possessions for the Cats and 72 possessions for Kansas. Pomeroy figures the Game in Kansas’ favor by 6 points, 78-72 at a pace of 70 possessions. Vegas opened this evening with the Jayhawks favored by 5 points.
Coming back to the roller coaster theme as compared to the possibility of a surge occurring, if this team sustains its recent surge, the final margin is likely to be 10 or more points above the predicted average margin, swinging this from a single digit loss for the Cats to a single digit win for the Cats.
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