No knock on Richmond
, but things couldn’t haven fallen any better for Kansas
in the Southwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
The Jayhawks are 10 ½-point favorites against the Spiders in their Sweet 16 matchup Friday in San Antonio at 4:27 p.m. PT on TBS. It’s the largest spread of any of the games in the round of 16.
The ‘over/under’ is 136.
Gone from the Southwest Regional are second-seeded Notre Dame, third-seeded Purdue, fourth-seeded Louisville, fifth-seeded Vanderbilt and sixth-seeded Georgetown.
All this attrition leaves the top-seeded Jayhawks a clear path to the Final Four. Kansas, winners of 34 of 36 games, captured the Big 12 regular-season and won the conference tournament.
Eliminate 12th-seeded Richmond is the Jayhawks’ latest order of business. The winner of this matchup meets the victor of the Florida State-Virginia Commonwealth game on Sunday.
So far the Jayhawks haven’t shown they are vulnerable to an upset, something that happened to them last year in the NCAA Tournament when Northern Iowa defeated them, 69-67, as 11-point underdogs in the second-round.
That defeat ranks as one of the more disappointing in Kansas’ long-storied history. The Jayhawks have been all business in their first two Big Dance contests this year beating Boston University, 72-53, as 23 ½-point favorites and knocking out Illinois, 73-59, covering as eight-point ‘chalk.’
The combined 125 points in Kansas’ victory against Boston University went ‘under’ the 137 ½-point total. The combined 132 points in the Jayhawks’ defeat of Illinois also went ‘under’ the 143-point total.
The ‘under’ has cashed in 12 of Kansas’ past 15 NCAA Tournament games.
The Morris twins – Marcus and Markieff – have been dominant in the post for the Jayhawks combining for 72 points and 41 rebounds in the two victories. The pair average a combined 31 points and 16 rebounds per game.
The Jayhawks, winners of 10 in a row, are well-rounded with a solid point guard in Tyshawn Taylor and versatile wing players Brady Morningstar, Tyrell Reed and Josh Selby.
They’ve helped Kansas win its last four games by an average of 15.5 points. The Jayhawks averaged 81.8 points per game during the regular season, sixth-best in the nation.
Richmond coach Chris Mooney hopes to slow down Kansas’ high-potent offense with a matchup zone defense and a methodical, slow-down, Princeton style of offense. The Spiders, who start four seniors, held foes to 60.8 points per game, 18th-best in the nation. They are 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight games at neutral sites when taking points.
The Spiders’ strength is in the inside-outside combination of senior guard Kevin Anderson, the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season, and 6-foot-10 senior Justin Harper, another all-league selection.
Harper leads the Spiders in scoring at 17.8 points per game. Anderson sparked Richmond’s 69-66 opening-round win against Vanderbilt with 25 points. The Spiders were three-point underdogs versus the Commodores with the combined 135 points pushing on the 135-point total.
Richmond then defeated Morehead State, 65-48, as 4 ½-point ‘chalk.’ The combined 113 points went ‘under’ the 123-point total. Morehead State had upset Louisville in an opening round game.
The ‘under’ is 9-1-1 in Richmond’s past 11 contests.
The Spiders are one of the hottest teams in the country having won and covered their last nine games, including capturing the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. The Spiders are 29-7 overall.
Richmond is 14-4 ATS the past two years when getting points, including 6-2 ATS this season as an underdog.
It’s the first time since 1988 the Spiders have advanced as far as the final 16 teams. Richmond nipped Kansas, 69-68, when the teams last met in January of 2004.