Kevin McCullar's Jayhawks are featured in the top-25 College Basketball Preview

Top 25 College Basketball Betting Preview: Kansas Keeps Winning On the Court, And Losing ATS

From a sports betting perspective, there’s not a more confounding team in college basketball than the Kansas Jayhawks.

They’re good—really good. Kansas entered this week with a 13-1 overall record and a No. 3 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll. The Jayhawks’ starting lineup is deep and talented, with a center (Hunter Dickinson), point guard (Dajuan Harris) and wing (Kevin McCullar Jr.) all among the best in the country at their respective positions. Should they end up cutting down the nets in Glendale, Ariz., on the night of April 8, no one would be surprised.

But when it comes to covering the spread, the Jayhawks are a complete enigma. Kansas entered this week having covered just three of its past 12 games—with the most recent whiff coming last Saturday, when Bill Self’s team barely survived a challenge from 9-point underdog TCU at the Allen Fieldhouse. Hey, the Horned Frogs are a tournament-caliber squad that won in Lawrence last season. No surprise, right? The problem is that Kansas is struggling to cover against anyone, no matter if they’re good teams like TCU and Kentucky, or lesser lights like Yale, Eastern Illinois, or Missouri-Kansas City.

According to data compiled by the folks over at, entering the week only Texas (more on them later) had a lower cover rate than Kansas among teams in the Top 25. The Jayhawks’ average scoring margin of +13.4 points was also lower entering the week than those of other college hoop elites like Purdue (+17.5), Connecticut (+18.7) and Houston (+27.1). Simply put, Kansas is struggling to put anybody away, and the result is a team that hasn’t covered in back-to-back games since it beat up on North Carolina Central and Manhattan in early November.

The analytics perhaps have it right: Kansas entered the week at No. 11 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, at No. 16 at and at No. 18 at, all of suggesting that the Jayhawks are overrated in the polls. And in a Big 12 that’s among the most challenging conferences in America, the Jayhawks’ schedule over the next month gets really rigid—Oklahoma on Saturday, resurgent Cincinnati the week after that, Houston and Baylor awaiting in early February.

Kansas by dint of its universal name recognition, championship pedigree and high national ranking is the type of team that will be a magnet for public money once the NFL playoffs end and college basketball takes center stage in the minds of sports bettors. Perhaps by then, the Jayhawks will be playing as well as their lofty poll positon suggests they are, and will be covering the spread with some degree of regularity. But for now, don’t let the rankings fool you.And with that, here are some other notable sports betting winners and losers from the season’s past few weeks.


North Carolina: While the Tar Heels may have some depth issues, their star duo of center Armando Bacot and guard RJ Davis is good enough to carry them a very long way. Bacot in particular has proven very hard to handle of late, leading UNC to a five-game winning streak both overall and against the spread to start the week.

San Diego State: Finally, the 2023 national runners-up got back into the AP Top 25 on Monday. Why did it take so long? The Aztecs entered the week having won six straight and 12 of 13, with a victory over Gonzaga in that span. San Diego State had also covered four straight, heading into very tough back-to-back games against New Mexico and Nevada.

Auburn: The Tigers entering the week had stretched their winning streak to seven games, covering the spread five times over that span. Bruce Pearl has a deep team, with no player averaging more than 23 minutes per game, and a string of winnable contests ahead of it in the SEC.


Texas: We’re going to preach this to the high heavens all season: fade the Longhorns, who played a largely garbage pre-conference schedule, and then were beaten at home by Texas Tech last week to open their Big 12 slate. Entering the week, Texas had failed to cover in 10 of its past 13 games, and things only get more difficult from here.

Florida Atlantic: What the heck, FAU? The Owls beat then-No. 1 Arizona in Phoenix and have failed to cover since, even suffering outright losses at 17.5-point underdog Florida Gulf Coast and 9-point underdog Charlotte. With the neutral court season behind it, FAU is clearly struggling to adjust to packed road gyms foaming at the mouth to beat a Final Four team.

Clemson: The Tigers still have an excellent duo in center P.J. Hall and guard Joe Girard, but the lack of a supporting cast cost them in outright losses to Miami and North Carolina, neither of which was very close at the end. Clemson entered the week with three losses in five games, and looking not quite ready to play with the ACC’s elite.

Upset Alert

Some games involving Top 25 teams to watch this week as potential point-spread upsets:

Michigan State at Illinois: The Spartans seem to be figuring things out after their rocky start to the season, entering the week having won five of six both outright and against the spread. Illinois was very competitive last week at No. 1 Purdue even without suspended star guard Terrence Shannon Jr., and now tries to slow Michigan State star Tyson Walker, who’s hit for 22, 22 and 27 points over his past three games.

Tennessee at Georgia: Coach Mike White has a nice run going at Georgia, which entered the week having won nine straight and covering four of its last six. Saturday brings a visit from brawny, bruising Tennessee, which entered the week having won six straight—though the Volunteers managed to cover just three times over that span.

Houston at TCU: Houston entered the week as the lone remaining unbeaten team in college basketball (sorry, Ole Miss and James Madison), with covers in seven of its previous 10 games. TCU entered the week having covered five of six, including its two-point loss at Kansas. The Frogs get Houston at the end of a bruising three-game stretch that also includes Kansas and Oklahoma, but this is easily the Cougars’ toughest road contest to date.

Player Prop Watch

Some players on Top 25 teams to watch for potential prop bets, should they be made available:

  • Zack Edey, Purdue center: Entered the week with averages of 22.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, with double-doubles in four of his last five outings.
  • Hunter Dickinson, Kansas center: Entered the week with averages of 19.4 points and 12.4rebounds per game, with double-doubles in five of his past six outings.
  • Armando Bacot, North Carolina center: Entered the week with averages of 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, with double-doubles in two straight outings.
  • R.J. Davis, North Carolina guard: Entered the week with a scoring average of 20.6 points, having scored in double-figures in 11 consecutive contests.
  • Kyle Filipowski, Duke center: Entered the week with averages of 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, having scored in double-figures in four of his last five outings.
  • Antonio Reeves, Kentucky guard: Entered the week with averages of 19 points and 4.2rebounds per game, having scored 30, 27 and 19 points over his previous three contests.
  • Tyson Walker, Michigan State guard: Entered the week averaging 20.6 points per game after scoring 22, 22 and 27 over his previous three contests

Top 25 Pick 3

North Carolina to cover against Syracuse: The Orange used great guard play to win five straight, a run that was ended at Duke. This weekend brings a trip to the other end of U.S. 15-501, to face a rolling North Carolina team that entered the week having won and covered in five straight, and presents a big man in Bacot who’s a nightmare matchup for smaller Syracuse.

Kentucky to cover at Texas A&M: The Wildcats entering the week had won and covered in five straight, all since a head-scratching home loss to UNC Wilmington. Kentucky’s well-balanced roster with five double-digit scorers faces a Texas A&M squad that entered the week having failed to cover four of five, and suffered a stunning home loss to LSU over that span.

Connecticut to cover against Georgetown: The Huskies have been a streaky play so far this season—they covered three straight, then failed to cover in two, then covered two more. But it would be a surprise if they didn’t cover against Georgetown, which is better in Year 1 under Ed Cooley, but still lost at Marquette by 30 and at home to Creighton by 17.

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