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Two top-five teams host games on Thursday night! The Harvard Crimson travel to Kansas to face the scalding-hot, fourth-ranked Jayhawks, while the Morgan State Bears make a long trip from Maryland to Arizona for a matchup with the No. 5 Wildcats.
Both of these games will likely be blowouts, but will they be big enough blowouts for the favorites to cover comfortably? Check out the best bets in these two matchups below to see which teams we believe will cover the spread!
When: 7:00 PM EST
O 136.5 (-114)
U 136.5 (-106)
Kansas will look to continue its four-game win streak, and the momentum it gained from a massive win against the Indiana Hoosiers when it hosts the Harvard Crimson on Thursday night. The Jayhawks have taken their play to another level since losing to the Tennessee Volunteers. During their four-game win streak, Kansas has won by at least 22 points in every game, including against the Hoosiers.
Kansas is led by its terrific trio of Wooden Award candidate Jalen Wilson, lockdown defender Kevin McCullar Jr, and freshman phenom Gradey Dick. These three make up almost 50 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals per game. Other significant contributors are K.J. Adams Jr and Dajuan Harris Jr, who chip in just shy of 17 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and three steals. The Jayhawks lean heavily on their starting lineup for production but have a few players who can come in off the bench and provide rest for the starters. Kansas has begun to resemble the potential National Championship team many thought it could be in the preseason.
Harvard has started the season with an 8-4 record, but the level of difficulty of its opponents is subpar. Two of those wins came against D-II and D-III schools. The Crimson didn’t blow them out, either. Harvard ranks 182nd in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin but holds an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 272nd in the nation. That kind of offensive output will not cut it against a top-ten defense in the country.
The Crimson should stay within 10-15 points for most of the game, but in the last ten minutes of the second half, the game should break open in favor of Kansas. The fact is that Harvard hasn’t seen a team nearly as talented as Kansas all season, and that will be a massive disadvantage.
The Jayhawks have a way of eliminating opposing teams’ best players, so Chris Ledlum (18.8 ppg and 7.8 rebounds for Harvard) will likely see some double teams, which will force other Crimson players to answer the bell.
Unfortunately, Kansas boasts an elite rotational defense and scarcely is there any type of miscommunication on switches or close-outs. Kansas should cover this generous spread; it has covered in four straight games without any of them being a sweat for bettors.
When: 8:00 PM EST
Morgan State Bears
O 161.5 (-110)
U 161.5 (-110)
Despite being ranked fifth in the nation, I believe that the Wildcats are still underrated. Arizona moves the ball incredibly well, ranking second in the nation in assists per game. The Wildcats also rank first in eFG% (effective field goal percentage) and points per game, second in offensive efficiency, and sixth in total rebounding percentage.
These high rankings can be attributed to their incredible frontcourt, which features two seven-footers, Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo. Ballo and Tubelis combine for roughly 37 points and 18 rebounds. Arizona is so deep that neither player averages over 28 minutes per game.
When you peruse Morgan State’s roster, it seems that there is plenty of size, with five players at 6-foot-8 or taller; however, only two of those players get any sort of valuable floor time: Khalil Turner and Lewis Djonkam. The other three frontcourt players get around 10-12 minutes per game.
While the Bears have two talented guards in Isaiah Burke and Malik Miller, they are incredibly thin outside of them as far as scoring goes. This is further evidenced by their ranking of 328th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency. To keep up with the top-ranked offense in the nation, you have to be able to score, which Morgan State simply does not do well. Arizona against the spread will be the play.
Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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