(2) Kansas Jayhawks (-1.5, 134 o/u) vs. (7) Wichita State Shockers
For the last several seasons, the No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (27-8, 13-5 Big 12) have ducked the No. 7 Wichita State Shockers (29-4, 17-1 MVC) in non-conference play. Today, there’s nowhere for the Jayhawks to hide, as they are slated to face their neighbors from Wichita at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
The Shockers set up today’s all-Kansas tilt by taking down No. 10 Indiana in the Round of 64 (81-76). Sharpshooting guard Ron Baker had an off game, failing to hit a single triple (despite shooting 45-percent from beyond the arc on the year). But Baker did come up clutch from the free-throw line, hitting 9/10 from the stripe, including seven in the final minutes.
The real hero for the Shockers was point guard Fred VanVleet. The junior had 27 points on 50-percent shooting and added four assists and two steals. Wichita State trailed by as many as eight in the first half and went into the break down three, but they came out on fire in the second and led for the majority of the final 20 minutes.
The Shockers survived despite shooting an uncharacteristic 2/13 from three-point range.
The Jayhawks, meanwhile, had a much easier time of it in their Round of 64 game. Kansas roared to a 32-16 lead in the first half against No. 15 New Mexico State, and then hit cruise control en route to a 75-56 win.
Frank Mason III had 17 points and nine boards in the win. No one else scored in double-figures for the Jayhawks, who shared the ball well and shot 54-percent from the field, including an impressive 9/13 from three.
Today’s game will be the first between the schools since 1993.
The Jayhawks are just 1.5-point favorites over their in-state rivals. With Wichita State’s guard combination of VanVleet and Baker proving themselves year after year in the tournament, bet against the Shockers at your own risk.
(Photo credit: Shane Adams (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)