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Two of the bluest-of-bloods take center stage tonight in the place that basketball built, Allen Fieldhouse. #12 Kentucky makes their way to a stout #5 Kansas team in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge and the Jayhawks are sitting as a 5.5-point favorite.
Aside from just winning and position themselves as a #1 seed, Kansas has some history at stake. Kentucky is the all-time wins leader in college basketball history (2,327) but sitting at #2 is Kansas and they are just four wins behind the Wildcats.
This game hinges on the health of TyTy Washington, the stud guard for Kentucky. When TyTy is healthy, he is a legitimate difference maker for this offense. Sahvir Wheeler, his running-mate, is plenty capable of leading Kentucky and mostly does anyway, but TyTy is a dude that broke a UK record for assists in a game (17) when Wheeler was out earlier this season. There’s just another level to this offense when he is in the game. He is the UK “got to have it” guy that you can trust.
That’s Ochai Agbaji for Kansas. That guy has proven clutch for the Jayhawks on many occasions already this season and he’ll likely have to be on for his team to win. He’s got help of course with David McCormack and Christian Braun but Kansas goes nowhere without the second and third gears of Agbaji. There’s a reason he’s the betting favorite to win the Wooden Award.
Kentucky has as many playmakers and as much depth as they’ve had in at least three seasons and can be poised to make a deep run come March, but it all hinges on the health of TyTy. As far as tonight is concerned, I do worry about not only TyTy’s health (ankle) but also that he, Jacob Toppin and Daimion Collins didn’t practice Thursday. That plus one of their assistants being missing concerns me. So, as of this morning before anything because official, I like Kansas to win at the Phog.
The line tells me all I need to know. It seems to think UK will be without major help because there’s no reason Kansas should be more than a 3-point favorite of both of these teams were fully healthy. Kansas is just 2-4 ATS at home in their last 6 however. It’s a tough, tough call but I don’t like Kansas running away with this. Kentucky is only 1-3 ATS on the road and the cover was against Vanderbilt. Still, I think TyTy tries to play and I’ll take Kentucky +5.5.