One of the negatives of conference realignment was momentarily losing today's matchup between the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers. It's one of the nation's best rivalries, and after the Tigers departed for the SEC, we lost the game for a few years. It's back now, though, and Kansas has dominated the series since it's returned.
In the two meetings since the resumption of the rivalry, the Jayhawks have scored an average of 98.5 points with an average win margin of 32.5. This season, Kansas has already defeated three ranked teams. The Tigers come into this matchup on a hot streak, having won four straight since a shocking loss to Jackson State.
They'll look to make it five in a row as it takes a big step up in competition and are listed as double-digit underdogs in college basketball odds.
What's the best bet in this matchup? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Saturday, December 9.
Missouri vs Kansas best odds
Missouri vs Kansas picks and predictions
Missouri has a shot here, and it seems that recent history has influenced this line more than it should.
At the onset, I mentioned what the most recent history between these teams has looked like. That makes the task of backing the Tigers a daunting one, particularly in what's been the house of horrors for them like Allen Fieldhouse. However, this matchup for Missouri is favorable, and I can't pass it up. I'm seeing the most significant edge early in the game.
Missouri head coach Dennis Gates would have likely been relatively unimpressed with the team's defensive performance at the start of the season. It ranks 84th in KenPom defensive efficiency and is worse than that when it comes to BartTorvik's numbers. However, it's likely been a little unlucky. The Tigers have a defense that holds opponents to a 46% effective field goal percentage. That's good for the 65th best in the country. In addition, Missouri has some deeper underlying numbers that suggest positive regression from that side of the ball.
The places where the Tigers struggle on the defensive side of the ball differ from Kansas' strengths. The most significant issues for Missouri have been in pick-and-roll defense. It has allowed 40% shooting, placing it in the Bottom 30% of college basketball. But this isn't a place where Kansas excels. It grades out poorly on the season, and point guard DeJuan Harris will rarely be a score-first threat in these situations. You must be solid in the post with Hunter Dickinson in the fold for rock chalk. Missouri has been that as it ranks in the Top 30% of the country in post defense. You're not going to shut off Kansas' offense completely, but Missouri has the makeup of a team that can certainly slow it down.
Things are helter-skelter for the Tigers offense with a 46% 3-point rate, but it's the exact type of recipe that can help you punch up against a more talented team. It also helps that Harris is exploitable in spot-up defending situations. He'll likely get the assignment of defending Sean East, and that would be a big win for Missouri. East enters this game with a true shooting percentage of 61% on spot-up sets, and Harris has allowed scores on these sets nearly 40% of the time. In addition, the Jayhawks could have been better defending pick-and-roll sets, which is Missouri's primary offense method. They'll enter this one averaging 1.01 points per possession on pick-and-rolls. That's one of the best marks in the country here.
There are issues for Kansas it has to navigate, and I wonder if it'll see this as a potential breather in its schedule and walk in a little sleepy. The Kansas dominance of this series has overinflated this number. If we're looking at the matchup on paper, this is a game decided by two or three possessions rather than one that Kansas dominates from start to finish. I'm riding with Missouri to be ready early in this spot and a matchup that's about as favorable as it gets when facing a Top-5 opponent.
My best bet: Missouri first half +8 (-110 at FanDuel)
Missouri vs Kansas same-game parlay
We're going for a significant hit here with this same-game parlay as we tie our best bet with two player props.
I'm taking Sean East to go Over his alternate point total of 19.5. I love the matchup he has here today. East excels beyond the arc and in pick-and-roll situations and Kansas defends poorly in both of these spots.
The last leg here is Hunter Dickinson's rebounds. Missouri has been a pretty poor defensive rebounding team with a percentage that ranks them 274th in the country. Overall, Kansas hasn't been good on the glass, meaning most of these chances will come to Dickinson.
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Missouri vs Kansas spread and Over/Under analysis
I placed a .25 unit bet on the Missouri moneyline at +780 in this one.
Look, Kansas is the better team with better players and the best coach. It should win, and perhaps its athleticism overwhelms Missouri late and wins going away. However, there is value in this number. There will be open looks beyond the perimeter for Missouri, which means there will be opportunities to go wild from three. This team has hit double-digit threes a few times this year and if the Tigers can do it in this spot, things will get interesting down the stretch.
I placed a second same-game parlay that was highly aligned with the one above and included the alternate Over of 150, so I lean toward the Over of 145.
The 150 is exactly what I projected the number to be, but that accurately displays Missouri's offensive advantages. It also didn't account for both teams getting to the line at a relatively high clip. This one could start a little slowly because of pregame jitters, which makes me think you'll get a better line in-game. That's a spot I'll look for.
Missouri vs Kansas betting trend to know
Missouri has hit the moneyline in 21 of their last 31 games (+17.60 Units / 18% ROI). Find more college basketball betting trends for Missouri vs. Kansas.
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Missouri vs Kansas game info
|Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS
|Saturday, December 9, 2023
|5:15 p.m. ET
Missouri vs Kansas key injuries
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