Sunday March 18 8:40 p.m. EST on TNT
NCAA Basketball Spread: Kansas -8
Kansas avoided the upset bug that spread all over the NCAA Tournament Friday night. The Jayhawks took out Detroit 65-50. Purdue pulled off a late game escape against St. Mary’s 72-69. The Boilermakers play in a tough conference, but are they ready for Thomas Robinson and the Jayhawks? Let’s take a closer look at this third round matchup.
Robbie Hummel missed two full seasons with serious knee injuries. It has been great to see him back in the lineup for the Boilermakers this year. Hummel has lost a step or two, but he is still a very good player. He leads the team in scoring 16.1 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 7.1 per contest. Lewis Jackson is a senior point guard who does a great job taking care of the basketball. A major strength for this Purdue team is how well they take care of the ball. Purdue has committed the fewest turnovers per possession of any team in the nation.
Terone Johnson is a guy who can get to the rim with authority, and he is playing his best basketball of the season right now. Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd are both terrific long range shooters. Both shoot 43% from three-point range. The biggest problem Purdue has is they don’t have any major low post presence. The Boilermakers only guy who can consistently score in the post is Hummel, and he is only 6’8.
Thomas Robinson is a Player of the Year candidate this season. Robinson leads the team with 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. He shoots 53% from the floor, and he has upped his free throw percentage to 68% this year (he previously shot less than 50% in his career). Robinson should be able to dominate in the paint in this one, because Purdue doesn’t really have anyone who can defend him. Tyshawn Taylor is the senior leader at point guard for the Jayhawks. Taylor averages 17.1 points per game, and he shoots an impressive 43% from three-point range. Taylor has 160 assists on the season, but he also has 118 turnovers.
Jeff Withey is a major force on the defensive end for the Jayhawks. Withey has racked up 114 blocks this year. Seven guys on this Kansas team have at least 20 steals this year. This is a very aggressive defense, and it is tough to find open looks against this team. Opponents shoot just 38.1% from the floor against the Jayhawks.
Purdue is a veteran team that doesn’t make many mistakes. Kansas has the advantage inside, but Purdue should be able to stay close with their long range shooting. I think this one will be closer than most expect.
Free College Basketball Pick: Purdue +8
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