The biggest game in college basketball tonight will be a BIG-12 battle between the Kansas Jayhawks and TCU Horned Frogs. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing tonight.
The TCU Horned Frogs needed their win over Oklahoma State on Saturday almost as much as they needed air. Due to a four-game losing streak, the Horned Frogs had fallen to 6-7 in conference play and were rapidly sliding down the BIG-12 standings, so their win over the Cowboys was able to get them back to .500.
The return of Mike Miles Jr. seems to have been what TCU needed to get moving back in the right direction, as the Horned Frogs had gone three straight games without scoring over 68 points before breaking out and scoring 100 points on 68% shooting on Saturday. In his first game since January 28th, Miles Jr. was able to score 15 points in the game on an efficient 4-8 from the field.
When these two teams last met on January 21st, the junior scored 15 points, leading TCU to a massive 83-60 win over the Jayhawks in Kansas. In their eight games since that loss, Kansas has gone 6-2 and is currently in the midst of a four-game win streak, and their offense looks nothing like the one that was held to just 60 points in the last matchup.
Kansas is now ranked 15th in the country in offensive efficiency rating, according to KenPom, and they have scored 78 points or more in their past four games. KJ Adams Jr. has been scoring incredibly efficiently over the win streak, averaging 13 PPG over the last four games and not shooting under 57.1% in that span.
One of the biggest questions for tonight is which Kansas defense will show up. On the season, the Jayhawks are 15th in defensive efficiency rating on KenPom, but they have allowed 71 or more points to be scored in three of their last four games.
TCU is currently listed as -1.5 point favorites, but I’ll be taking them on the moneyline at (-127) for my pick in this one. On the year, the Horned Frogs are 14-3 straight up when favored and 12-3 when playing at home. It stands out that a team ranked 22nd in the country and is 1-4 in their last five games is favored over the 5th-ranked team that has won four straight, so a lot of big money must be coming in on TCU.
Offensively, Mike Miles Jr. adds an element to this team that makes them incredibly difficult to slow down. TCU runs at the 43rd-highest tempo in the country, according to KenPom, and the junior was able to pump life back into their transition offense in his return.
Trying to turn defense into offense has led the Horned Frogs to be ranked 24th in the country in steals per game and caused the Jayhawks to have 17 turnovers in the last meeting between these two teams. Not many teams have been able to beat the Jayhawks in the turnover battle this season, but I think TCU can do it again tonight at home.
TCU Horned Frogs (-127)