Eastern Washington vs Kansas Odds and Picks

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

  • 3-seed Kansas is a 10.5-point favorite over 14-seed Eastern Washington in West Region First Round Action on Saturday (March 20th, 1:15 pm ET)
  • The Jayhawks had to withdraw from the Big 12 Tournament due to a positive COVID test, and will be without third leading scorer Jalen Wilson
  • See below for analysis, odds and a betting prediction

Kansas looked like a serious threat to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament coming down the stretch this season, but a positive COVID test ahead of the Big 12 semifinal squashed that dream.

Now, a shorthanded Jayhawks team travels to Indianapolis to face Eastern Washington on Saturday (March 20, 1:15 pm ET), in First Round action at the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern Washington vs Kansas Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Eastern Washington Eagles +10.5 (-110) +480 Over 147.5 (-106)
Kansas Jayhawks -10.5 (-110) -650 Under 147.5 (-116)

Odds as of March 17th at FanDuel.

Kansas is currently a 10.5-point favorite, in a game that features a total of 147.5. The Jayhawks, the West Regionโ€™s 3-seed, won eight of nine games before having to withdraw from the conference tournament, and will be missing multiple players versus the 14th seeded Eagles.

2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker

Kansasโ€™ COVID Conundrum

Bill Selfโ€™s team wonโ€™t have either small forward Jalen Wilson or reserve guard Tristan Enaruna in the lineup on Saturday, Wilson, the Jayhawksโ€™ third leading scorer, should be available for the Second Round, if Kansas advances, while Enaruna wonโ€™t be eligible to rejoin the team until the Sweet Sixteen.

The good news is that second leading scorer David McCormack will be back. Kansas ranks 125th nationally in points per game, and 185th in field-goal percentage, and would be hard pressed to produce without two of its top-three scorers.

Thanks to their underwhelming offense, the Jayhawks have been forced to win with their defense this season. They rank sixth in adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom) and held eight of their final nine opponents to 66 points or less.

Big production from the defense will be needed on Saturday, as the Eastern Washington offense is a dangerous unit.

Eagles Let It Fly

The Eagles meanwhile, won 13 of their final 14 games, a run that culminated with their first Big Sky title since 2015. They posted double-digit wins in the semifinal and final, beating Montana State to claim the crown.

Center Tanner Groves leads the team offensively, averaging 16.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, and is one of four players on the roster who averages in double-figures. Grovesโ€™ brother Jacob is also a factor, averaging 8.7 points and 4 rebounds per outing, and led the team in scoring in the conference championship game.

The Eagles were first in the Big Sky in points, while ranking second in field-goal percentage and three-point efficiency. Defensively, they surrendered 72.4 points per night in league play, but did lead the conference in defensive rebounding, while holding enemy shooters to 42.3% from the field.

Take The Points

Eastern Washington were ATS crushers in 2020-21. They finished 12-6 against the number in Big Sky play, including 8-2 ATS in their final 10 outings. They also found success out of conference. They were 3-1 ATS against top-100 teams, posting covers against Arizona, St. Maryโ€™s and Washington State. Groves is a serious threat in the middle, and the balanced scoring the Eagles bring to the table should keep them in this game, even against an elite defense.

Kansas on the other hand, were 14-12-1 ATS this season. Given their offensive limitations and reduced roster, no one should be surprised if they struggle to pull away.

Putting them on upset alert would be overblown, however, Eastern Washington can certainly cover this double-digit number.

Pick: Eastern Washington Eagles +10.5 (-110)

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Chris Amberley

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