Top-seeded Kansas boasts a lethal perimeter game and No. 4 seed Purdue owns one of the nation’s top inside threats as the teams prepare to do battle in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Region semifinals Thursday in Kansas City, Mo. Senior guard Frank Mason III leads the Jayhawks, who won 10 of 11 to reach 30 victories, and Purdue leans on 6-9 sophomore Caleb Swanigan to key its offense.
“We haven’t seen that this year, a team that plays through their bigs,” Kansas coach Bill Self told reporters. “That’s how they play. Certainly, they are really good at it. … We’ve got to come up with a way to eliminate post touches and still get to their shooters because they can stretch it from all the spots to the perimeter.” The Jayhawks averaged 95 points in the first two games of the NCAA Tournament with Mason and freshman swingman Josh Jackson each averaging at least 20. Swanigan is supplying 18 points, 13 boards, 5.5 assists and two blocks per game in the Big Dance as the Boilermakers – Big Ten regular-season champions – face their biggest test just a short ride from the Kansas campus in Lawrence. “We enjoy playing on the road,” Purdue junior guard Dakota Mathias told reporters. “. … We’ve won in a lot of hostile environments, a lot of big-time places, so this isn’t going to be any different.”
TV: 9:39 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Kansas opened as 4-point favorites and the betting public hit them hard and the books bumped the line up to -5 by Monday – where it remains today. The total hit the board at 156.5 and has been fairly steady all week. Check out the complete line history here.
Purdue – F Jacquil Taylor (Out For Season, ankle).
Kansas – C Udoka Azubuike (Out For Season, wrist).
ABOUT PURDUE (27-7 SU, 19-10-2 ATS, 18-12-1 O/U): Swanigan not only produces big numbers (18.5 points, 12.6 rebounds overall), but his presence creates enough openings for the Boilermakers to drain 305 shots from 3-point range with a 40.4 percent success rate. Junior forward Vince Edwards is one of five players to make at least 40 from behind the arc and is 19-of-30 from the field overall in the NCAAs, averaging 21.0 – more than eight points above his average. Junior center Isaac Haas (12.6 points, 58.8 percent shooting) gives the Boilermakers another major inside threat Kansas must handle.
ABOUT KANSAS (30-4 SU, 13-18-1 ATS, 16-16 O/U): Mason is averaging 24.2 points over the last five games to push his team-leading mark to 20.8 – to go along with 5.2 assists – and is shooting 47.2 percent from 3-point range with 76 makes. Junior backcourt mate Devonte’ Graham, who leads the team with 89 makes from 3-point range, had an outstanding start to the NCAA Tournament while averaging 17 points on 11-of-17 shooting – 8-of-13 from beyond the arc. Jackson is averaging 20 points in the Big Dance while junior guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk adds 12.5 and boasts eight of his 66 3-pointers in his last four games.
* Boilermakers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. Big 12.
* Jayhawks are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
* Over is 8-0 in Boilermakers last 8 neutral site games.
* Over is 5-1 in Jayhawks last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 66 percent of Covers users are taking chalk with the Kansas Jayhawks and Over is picking up 61 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.