When ESPN goes live to Allen Fieldhouse at 9 p.m. ET tonight, there’s a 100 percent chance the announcers will attempt to sell you on the possibility that No. 10 Kansas State will hang right in there—and possibly beat—arch-rival and 14th-ranked Kansas.
The Wildcats are alone in first place in the Big 12. They’re on a four-game winning streak and playing some of the best defense in the league. They’ve bought into new coach Bruce Weber’s motion offense and have embraced his more players-friendly approach. They only lost by four points to Kansas earlier this season and very well could’ve won the game if not for an abnormally poor shooting display.
Plus, the Jayhawks are on a worse slide than we’ve ever seen from them in recent memory, in danger of dropping their fourth straight for the first time since 1989. Point guard issues have spread like a plague to the rest of the team. With another loss, the once invincible-looking Jayhawks would be in serious trouble on their quest to claim a ninth straight Big 12 regular-season title.
“If they were to defeat us,” Kansas coach Bill Self told the University Daily Kansan, “they’d put us really behind the eight ball.”
“I wish we had a couple of days to prepare. But they probably wish they had a couple days to prepare also.”
Don’t buy into Self’s quotes. None of them.
Why not? Never before has Self or his Jayhawks shown any need for “a couple of days to prepare” in Big Monday matchups.
BIG MONDAY MASTERS
Since Bill Self took over at Kansas in 2003, the Jayhawks are 15-0 in Big Monday home games and have won them by an average score of 83-62. That’s 21 points per game.
Which is astounding.
The Jayhawks are 10-4-1 ATS in those games, including a 9-2 ATS mark over the last six years. Only old rival Missouri, which lost by nine in 2003 and three in 2007, has managed to stay within single digits of the Jayhawks, who have won 10 games by 15 or more and four by 30-plus.
KANSAS JAYHAWKS’ BIG MONDAY HISTORY AT ALLEN FIELDHOUSE
|AVG SPREAD: -14.4||AVG SCORE: 83-62||ATS RECORD: 10-4-1||AVG COVER: 6.0|
|2013||Kansas State||KU -8||???||???||???|
|2012||Texas A&M||KU -19||64-54||L||-9|
|2011||Oklahoma State||KU -17||92-65||W||10|
|2009||Texas A&M||KU -10.5||73-53||W||9.5|
|2008||Texas Tech||KU -19.5||109-51||W||38.5|
|2006||Texas Tech||KU -13.5||86-52||W||20.5|
At only Kansas -8, this is the lowest point spread we’ve ever seen in a Big Monday game at Allen Fieldhouse with Self in charge.
Fifty-six percent of the early bettors at SportsInsights are on the Wildcats, and yet the line opened at 7.5 and has moved to 8 at most sportsbooks and 8.5 at a couple others.
Kansas State has always tended to unravel in trips to Allen Fieldhouse, dropping 17 of the past 18 meetings and falling by 18, 24, 17, 16, 14 and 27 points in the last six years, an average of 19.3 points per beating.
But much of that had to do with the fact that Frank Martin turned into a raving psychotic lunatic on the sidelines, frequently erupting at players and turning his team into complete headcases. Who knows, maybe Bruce Weber—who’s been in plenty of big games and challenging venues before—is much better suited to get his players prepared for one of the most hostile environments in sports.
But we’re not banking on it.