Top 25 College Hoops Match-up: #2 Kentucky vs. #11 Kansas

Two of College Basketball’s elite teams tip-off tonight as the #2 Kentucky Wildcats face the #11 Kansas Jayhawks as part of the State Farm Champions Classic doubleheader taking place at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. Featuring arguably two of the best college coaches in NCAA Basketball history along with two outstanding casts of young talent, there’s no question that for basketball fans today the top sports betting action at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here lies squarely on this match-up tonight, with plenty on the line for just the second game of the season for each team.

While Kentucky and their head coach John Calipari have become known for having very young, very talented teams (mainly a product of so many players heading to the NBA as underclassmen), the Kansas Jayhawks actually come into this match-up as the greener team in terms of time on court (after the departure of the Morris twins last season), sporting 6 freshmen that all will be anxious to hit the national stage tonight against a big-name rival. The Jayhawks ascended one spot in the rankings after the first game of the season, in which they simply demolished underdog Towson 100-54, getting double-digit scoring production from 6 different sources, and 6 points or more from 9 players on the roster. That depth is certainly a key to the Kansas attack tonight, and may lean in their favor especially if they can extract a similarly well-rounded performance from the entire line-up as they did in the first game of the year. It’s worth noting that the Top-5 leading scorers in that first game rout where all upperclassmen, with junior forward Thomas Robinson leading the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Jayhawks also sport a 7 footer in Jeff Withey, who looks to see a lot more playing time this season, transfer Kevin Young, an exciting 6’8″ forward out of California, and senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who will look to run the Jayhawks offense and show that he’s put his extra-curricular troubles behind him. There’s no doubt this team has plenty of talent, and despite heading into this match-up against Kentucky as the lower-ranked squad, the experience and depth of the Jayhawks could spell success against a still-learning crop of Kentucky Wildcat players.

Kentucky has learned to thrive under John Calipari’s merry-go-round of underclassmen talent, and this year’s crop of youngsters looks to have similar, if not bigger expectations of them heading into the 2011-12 season. The bottom line after the first game of the year looks pretty similar to the Jayhawks; 5 players in double digit scoring, 7 players scoring 8 or more points, and a 108-58 rout of a lesser Marist team at home. What really stands out here for the Wildcats is a true star talent in freshman Anthony Davis, with the 6’10” forward putting up 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks on 10-13 shooting in the first game of the season, and looking like a real threat against the Jayhawks in this match-up tonight down low. While Kansas does have height in the paint, Davis’ quickness and agility could spell trouble for the Jayhawks bigmen, and he’ll be critical on the battle of the boards on both offense and defense. Also important for the Wildcats is their talented tandem of point guards, with freshman Marquis Teague likely to make the start, but sophomore Doron Lamb just as capable of running the offense and scoring at will (the two put up 16 and 15 points respectively in their opener this year). It’ll be interesting to see how Coach Calipari rotates the two guards around in this match-up, but expect to see Teague as the #1 at point, and Lamb as a #2, making for a great 1-2 punch from the perimeter for the Wildcats in this match-up. There’s promising depth on this team with returners Darius Miller (10.9 points/game last year and Terrence Jones (15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds) in the mix, so despite a youthful facade for UK, don’t expect this group of well-coached, experience-laced Wildcats to be in any way uncomfortable heading into today’s big game on a big national stage against an NCAA tournament contender.

Betting Lines for #2 Kentucky vs. #11 Kansas is our featured online sportsbook for tonight’s top NCAA Basketball match-up, and checking out the betting lines on their cleanly laid-out website we see that the  #2 Kentucky Wildcats come into this neutral location match-up as the favorite on the money line, getting -285 odds to win over the younger Kansas Jayhawks team (who comes in with +245 odds to upset). The Jayhawks get a 6.5 point cushion against the spread at -110 odds, with Kentucky getting equal odds in having to cover 6.5 points as the favorite. In this game between two very high scoring offenses, the over/under is off at, however if you’re looking for betting lines featuring this option, turn to one of the best online sportsbooks like today, which has the over/under listed at 146.5 points (pretty reasonable for two teams that just put up over 100 points in their opening games).

Our Pick to Win:

While Kansas is certain to be a top team throughout the season under Bill Self, Kentucky looks primed to have the advantage in this match-up on experience alone, with a couple of key returners hitting the court at Madison Square Garden, and plenty of depth across the line-up. There’s a number of critical match-ups that will decide this game, including the battle for boards down in the paint pitting Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones against Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey and Kevin Young. Kentucky looks very strong in the rebound game on both sides of the court already (nabbing 51 boards in their first game), and the Jayhawks will have to counter will aggressive play in the paint to keep the rebound margin close to equal if they are to have a shot at an upset in today’s game. On another note, the point guard position will come into focus around Tyshawn Taylor, who must dictate the tempo of the game for the Jayhawks and distribute the scoring around the Jayhawks offense, as there is little doubt Kentucky will have confidence in their on-court leadership with Doron Lamb backing up Marquis Teague. UK just looks a little too deep for the young Jayhawks to overcome tonight, so aside from a phenomenal shooting night from Kansas, we’ve got our money down against the spread on the Wildcats to prevail 75-68 at MSG behind dominant rebounding, points in the paint, and a well-balanced shooting attack. That said, this game should be a great one for College Basketball fans, so either which way you wager there’s no doubt you’ll be in for a treat this evening!

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