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Kansas vs Kentucky Predictions and Picks

One good thing we get from the ESPN inspired Big 12/SEC Challenge is a matchup of college basketball royalty. For the second straight season and fifth time overall the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats will meet in the made-for-TV event. Kansas would rather have a cupcake non-conference opponent to help cure its ills. For the fourth time in the 20-year tenure of Bill Self the Jayhawks have lost three games in a row while the Cats are surging the other direction. A blowout loss to Alabama and home setback as a 20-point favorite to South Carolina put Coach Cal in the crosshairs, but the Cats responded by going 4-0 SU and ATS.

This NCAA men’s basketball game will air live on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 28, 2023 from Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY.

College Basketball Odds at

Kansas Jayhawks (Check Back Later)

Kentucky Wildcats (Check Back Later)

Over/Under (Check Back Later)

Season Story

Oftentimes when a team is performing well people say they aren’t that good. You also hear the same folks say a team isn’t that bad when the club is struggling. More times than not those people are right with their assessment and the real value of the club rests somewhere in between. And that’s certainly the case with this year’s edition of the Jayhawks. With plenty of new faces replacing the ones that won a national championship, a fast start wasn’t expected. But the Jayhawks stormed out of the gate with six straight wins with Duke, NC State and Wisconsin among the victims. KU won 16 of its first 17 games climbing to No. 2 in the rankings. The run ended with an OT loss to rival K-State with setbacks to TCU and Baylor following. The Jayhawks also failed to cover in five straight and their 35 percent cover rate is among the worst.

Just two weeks ago diehards in Lexington were calling out Coach Cal. A 26-point loss at Alabama followed by an embarrassing 71-68 setback at home to South Carolina as a 20-point favorite left the Cats at 10-6 overall and out of the national rankings. Fans may have been more upset about their team at the betting window. In a 10-game stretch that ended with the South Carolina game, the Cats were 0-9-1 ATS. That blow served as a wakeup call. Next time out Kentucky smothered No. 5 Tennessee winning 63-56 in Knoxville starting a 4-0 SU and ATS run.

Kansas Jayhawks

Taking a deeper dive into the Jayhawks reveals they aren’t as bad as their slide suggests. Each setback during the current losing streak was against a quality opponent and all four losses this season were against teams currently ranked among the top-20. And they have three wins over ranked foes giving them a 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS record against top-25 opposition. Kentucky is unranked, but that doesn’t make the schedule any easier.

Each of the last four opponents was in the polls and the Big 12 is probably the strongest it’s ever been. “Our league is that good. It’s going to be a grind,” Self said following Monday’s road loss to Baylor. It’s a different Kansas team but one that has plenty of talent. Jalen Wilson leads the Big 12 averaging 21.4 points. Gradey Dick averages 14.9 points shooting nearly 44 percent from behind the arc. And transfer Kevin McCullar is one of the top assist men averaging 7.3 dimes.

Kentucky Wildcats

Even the best teams experience slumps over the course of a season; the better clubs just limit the time spent in one. The Cats aren’t one of the best, but they’re still darn good and plenty talented. They could’ve easily rolled over after back to back losses rather they moved forward knowing there are plenty of games remaining. We don’t always think of Kentucky being a strong defensive team, but that’s what helped them weather the storm. They held Tennessee to nearly 20 points below its season average in the 63-56 win. They also held Vandy to 33 percent shooting in a 69-53 win last time out.

And the Cats are always a threat with Oscar Tshiebwe on the floor. The reigning player of the year was one of five double-figure scorers with 15 against Vandy adding 13 boards for his 12th double-double of the season. The return of Jacob Toppin and scoring of Antonio Reeves contributed to the recent run. Tshiebwe had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Toppin scored 11 points in the Cats’ 80-62 payout win in Lawrence last year.

Kansas at Kentucky Prediction

It’s been a long time since the Jayhawks lost four straight games and while this is a different club from what we’ve seen in the past, they are still loaded. And a visit to Rupp Arena isn’t going to faze them. If anything KU is stronger after a recent stretch against quality teams and I’m still not convinced Kentucky is as good as their winning streak.

Our Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks / UNDER

View today’s college basketball betting odds.

Jake Flynn
Jake Flynn
Senior writer for Writes NBA, NCAA basketball, MLB, UFC and daily fantasy sports articles.

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