College Basketball - Texas A&M Aggies at Kansas Jayhawks (-6, 132) 9:00 PM EST
Two of the strongest defensive teams in the country will trade blows in the weekend's top tilt. The 10th ranked Aggies from Texas A&M travel north to Lawrence, to take on the sixth ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
Coach Billy Gillispie has the best team in the nation in holding opposing teams to 34.9% shooting and just 54.3 PPG. Not far behind is Kansas who is tied for fourth is defensive field goal percentage at 37.6%. Each does it their own special way.
Texas A&M prefers a slower more methodical pace and plays rugged, physical defense. They man up and get in the opposition's face making every dribble, every pass and every shot a challenge. If by chance you are able to get by Acie Law at guard then center Joseph Jones and forward Antanas Kavaliauskas are waiting underneath. Kansas is able to get in defensive crouch and make life miserable for opponents with superior athletes. Brandon Rush is an inexhaustible on the ball defender, capable of shutting any offensive threat down. Mario Chalmers leads the Jayhawks in steals with 2.7 a game with quick hands and understanding of off ball defensive to create takeaways in passing lanes. Julian Wright often can do no wrong on the defensive end.
Being able to dictate the pace of the game will be important for both teams. Kansas will want to get up and down the floor with its athletes, making Texas A&M job difficult. Chances are the Aggies will slow the action down and value each possession and try to pound the ball inside to Jones. This shortens the game and takes the wild Kansas crowd out of the game. Texas A&M only three losses have come on the road and they are 4-2 ATS away from College Station.
Bill Self knows this and will encourage his team to play faster to force the issue. Kansas can play at a slower pace if to borrow from CBS analyst Clark Kellogg they play with "spurtability". This means at points of this Big 12 contest, they will windows where the action will be faster paced and they will need 6-0 and 8-2 scoring runs to help them win and control the Aggies.
This will be Kansas' smallest home favorite role of the season, where they are 13-1 and a deceiving 5-7 ATS trying to overcome massive spreads. Keep this one in mind; Texas A&M is 9-2 over the last couple of years as road underdog.
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