Big 12 basketball is stacked this season, and two of the better teams in the conference are set to meet up in the NCAAB Kansas at Texas Tech pick (7:00 PM ET, ESPN). The Jayhawks are #5 in the country, on a six game win streak since their season opening loss to Gonzaga – but are still +2 underdogs in this matchup.
Texas Tech is no slouch though, ranked #14 in the AP Top 25 in their own rights. The Red Raiders did fail their only challenge of the season though, dropping a 64-53 tilt against Houston as -3 favorites in a neutral site game in Ft. Worth. TTU has breezed through some pushovers en route to their 6-1 record, are they ready for a challenge like Kansas?
Jayhawks Anxious to Get Conference Play Started
The 2018/19 season when Texas Tech and Kansas State tied for the Big 12 regular season crown was the only time since 2003/04 that the Jayhawks didn’t claim at least a share of the conference crown. That stat shows not only how good KU is year in and year out – but also the ascension that the Texas Tech program has made under coach Chris Beard.
KU looks to be on yet another roll heading into the NCAAB Kansas at Texas Tech pick. The Jayhawks lost 102-90 to #1 Gonzaga to open the season (at neutral site Ft. Myers), but have rattled off six straight since then. Unlike Texas Tech who has mostly kicked over tomato cans this season, KU has played some quality opponents including top 10 at-the-time Kentucky (65-62 as -4 favorites) and Creighton (73-72, -3.5).
The Jayhawks’ run has been impressive considering they’ve had to replace Udoka Azubuike (13.7 ppg/10.5 rpg) and his 7′ post presence as well as the leadership of Devon Dotson (18.1 ppg) as both are off to the NBA. Jalen Wilson (15.1 ppg) and Ochai Ogbaji (14.1) power the KU offense this season.
Texas Tech Largely Untested
Wednesday night’s meeting in Lubbock with Kansas is by far the biggest test thus far for the #14 Red Raiders. TTU is expecting great things this season, but they’ve been at least -14 point favorites in all six of their wins this season. TTU also lost 64-53 to Houston in their only test of the season due largely in part to shooting 4-18 from three point range.
Despite slipping up against the Cougars, Beard likes what he has in this Red Raiders squad. The 47-year old has built a great culture in Lubbock, taking the team to the Elite 8 in 2018 and becoming national championship runner-ups in 2019. Beard is just 2-6 in his tenure vs. Kansas however, although handing the Jayhawks a 91-62 beating in Lubbock in 2019.
These two programs do have a tendency to play each other close though. Aside from a 16-point win in Lawrence in 2019, the Jayhawks’ margins of victory the last four games have been 4, 3, 2, and 1 points. The Red Raiders have the defense to make Thursday night’s tilt tight again, ranking 4th in the country allowing just 51.6 ppg. Once again, that’s come against a lot of bad teams though.
Free NCAAB Kansas at Texas Tech Pick
The Red Raiders will have a limited capacity of fans allowed in attendance on Thursday night, which does help their home court advantage a bit. The total is set low in this one as both teams have the perception of being good defensively, but the early season numbers have come against bad teams. 7 of the last 8 head-to-head matchups have gone ‘over’ the 132 listed number here.
Kansas 72 – Texas Tech 75
Free Pick: Over 132