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Kansas vs Howard Prediction, Picks & Odds | NCAA Tournament

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published March 15, 2023
12 min read

A dominant season from the Kansas Jayhawks has given them yet another No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. There will be a lot of pressure on Kansas to perform at a similar level to last year when it secured a National Championship. Now, the Jayhawks will take on their first test in the Round of 64: Howard. The Bison put together five-straight wins to clinch their birth and have the opportunity of a lifetime ahead of them. Check out the March Madness and Round of 64 preview for Kansas vs Howard below.

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Kansas vs Howard Prediction for the 2023 NCAA Tournament

#1 Kansas Preview

Despite losing their top two scorers from last year’s National Championship team, the Kansas Jayhawks have thrived, winning 27 games, which includes 17 Quad 1 wins. No other team has had a more impressive season than Kansas. The Jayhawks have had arguably the toughest schedule in the entire NCAA, yet still are one of the best teams in the country. Led by junior forward Jalen Wilson, this defense is downright mean; they get through screens, have switchability, if necessary, and are as physical as any team. 

Wilson would have had a case for National Player of the Year if it weren’t for Purdue’s big man, Zach Edey. The Jayhawks’ forward has taken a massive step from scoring 11 points per game last year to more than 20 this year. The Jayhawks have championship DNA, with several of their players contributing to last year’s National Championship, and that matters during March Madness. Kansas will benefit from that experience and from playing in the ever-challenging Big 12 Conference. These first few games likely won’t be much of a challenge. 

Key Players & Key Stats

While Wilson posts 20 points and eight rebounds per game, he is far from the only offensive threat on this team. Superstar freshman, and likely lottery pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, Gradey Dick, puts up an impressive 14 points and five rebounds while shooting 40% from deep.

The Jayhawks’ defense (seventh in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency) is what has made them a truly great basketball team this season; however, Kansas can also put points on the board quickly and efficiently, especially off of turnovers or misses, where it ranks 38th in fastbreak points per game. Improved rebounding (149th in rebounding rate) is the area that this team has to tighten up if they want to repeat.

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#16 Howard Preview

As far as KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin goes, Howard is the highest-ranking No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 22-12 Bison have a more impressive resume than the other No. 16 seeds (Farleigh-Dickinson, Texas Southern, and Southeast Missouri State), but have still struggled against stronger competition, such as Kentucky, Wyoming, VCU, and Yale. Still, Howard has strung together five-straight wins, including three MEAC tournament games, to secure a birth to the NCAA Tournament. The beginning of the 2022-23 season started really rough for the Bison, but in their last 16 games, they have gone 14-2. 

Howard is led by sophomore point guard Elijah Hawkins, who averages close to 13 points, six assists, and four rebounds on a solid 44/47/77 shooting split. Ultimately, what makes this Howard team dangerous is its combination of rebounding (31st in offensive rebounding percentage) and three-point shooting (37.2%, 31st in the nation.) 

Key Players & Key Stats

Besides Hawkins, the Bison count on forward Steve Settle II to crash the glass (5.7 rebounds per game) and provide secondary scoring in the frontcourt (11 points per game.) Shy Odom, Marcus Dockery, Jelani Williams, and Jordan Wood all chip in, too, with between nine and 11 points per game each.

It is impressive how well the Bison shoot the ball; Hawkins, Dockery, and Wood are three prolific shooters from deep, giving them one of the better three-point-shooting trios in the low majors. We have seen this team post 100 points in a single game, too, displaying not only their impressive shooting from deep but their competence off the dribble. Regardless, the reality is that it would take a massive game from Hawkins, their clear-cut No. 1 option, for them to keep this game against Kansas even relatively close.

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Odds, Previews, Picks, Best Bets for #1 Kansas vs #16 Howard

What we are going to see in this game is just how much better the Big 12 is than any other conference in the nation. While Howard’s shooting and offensive rebounding certainly pop out on a national level, it has not fared well against talented teams, especially one like Kansas, which ranks seventh in adjusted defensive efficiency. Howard’s best player, the aforementioned Hawkins, stands at only 5-foot-11 and will be constantly swarmed by Dajuan Harris Jr, a lightning-quick guard with championship experience; he was pivotal for the Jayhawks last season, appearing in all 40 games and averaging 29 minutes per game. Kansas has time to prepare for this game and ensure a plan where it covers the three-point line at a high level. While the Jayhawks aren’t the best defensive rebounding team by any stretch of the imagination, they won’t have trouble keeping the Bison away from the glass on that end of the floor due to the sheer dominance in both size and strength. This spread is surprising at just 21 points, in favor of Kansas, as some 1 vs 16 matchups in the past have been in the high-20s or even low 30s. The Jayhawks have value here and will show why they are one of the best in the nation.

#1 Kansas vs #16 Howard How to Watch

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Game Time & Date: Thu, Mar 16 at 2 p.m. EST

TV Network: TBS

Streaming: TBS

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AUTHOR

Andrew Norton

148 Articles

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.

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