#14 Eastern Washington vs #3 Kansas NCAA Tournament Round 1

#14 Eastern Washington vs #3 Kansas NCAA Tournament Round 1 | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on March 18, 2021

No. 3 Kansas will be a bit short-handed due to COVID protocols for the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament opener Saturday against No. 14 Eastern Washington, the Big Sky Tournament champion. Kansas, which has the longest active streak of consecutive tourney appearances, is still a solid favorite on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Eastern Washington vs. Kansas NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info
  • When: Saturday, 1:15 PM ET
  • Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis
  • TV: TBS
  • Stream: https://www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAB Lines: Kansas -10.5 (total 146.5)
Last Meeting

Eastern has played Kansas once before, an 85-47 Jayhawk victory on Dec. 5, 2007. Kansas finished 37-3 in the 2007-08 season and went on to win the NCAA Tournament championship. The Eagles are 0-9 versus the Big 12 Conference all-time. Kansas is 14-0 all-time against current members of the Big Sky Conference.

Why Bet on Eastern Washington? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Eagles (16-7) rolled through the Big Sky Conference Tournament with a trio of victories, leading for a total of 108:19 out of 120 minutes (trailed for 8:25 and tied for 3:16). EWU led by as many as 12, 38 and 20 in the three wins, respectively.

It’s the program’s third NCAA Tournament appearance. Eastern’s first NCAA Tournament appearance came under head coach Ray Giacoletti on March 19, 2004, when the Eagles fell to No. 2 seed Oklahoma State 75-56 in Kansas City, Mo. Eastern returned 14 years later under head coach Jim Hayford and fell to No. 4 Georgetown 84-74 in Portland, Ore., on March 19, 2015.

Eastern seniors Jack Perry and Jacob Davison were redshirt freshmen on EWU’s last team to advance to a national postseason tournament in 2018. Juniors Tanner Groves and Kim Aiken Jr. redshirted that season. Davison had seven points, four steals and three rebounds in EWU’s loss to Utah Valley in the CBI. Perry scored four points in 26 minutes of action in that contest.

Eastern head coach Shantay Legans has now been a part of NCAA Tournament teams as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was an assistant under Hayford when EWU advanced in 2015, and was a player at California for coach Ben Braun in 2001 and 2002.

The Eagles play fast, often playing 73- or 74-possession games. They score, too, as six players have an offensive rating of 110.0 or greater at KenPom. The team grades out as the No. 86 offense in the nation (adjusted offensive efficiency) and plays at the 28th-fastest tempo. For reference, Kansas ranks No. 186 in adjusted tempo.

“We like to get up and down,” said Legans. “We like to play basketball. We like to play fast. I’ll let them get out and do different things. I let them be creative a lot of the times and we’re a hard team to scout because we’ve got five guys on the court that can really shoot the 3.”

In addition, Eastern Washington hung tough in three straight losses against Pac-12 teams to begin the season. In fact, Eastern Washington led Washington State and Arizona at halftime and only trailed Oregon by four. This team has only improved since those respectable losses, too.

Why Bet on Kansas? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Kansas (20-8) has won three straight, eight of its last nine and nine of its last 11 games heading into the NCAA Tournament. KU finished second in the 2020-21 Big 12 race and won its quarterfinal game against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. However, KU had to withdraw from the Big 12 Tournament last week in the middle of bracket play after a positive COVID-19 test within the program.

Now the Jayhawks — still dealing with fallout from that. Junior forward David McCormack, redshirt freshman forward Jalen Wilson and sophomore wing Tristan Enaruna, in that order, all tested positive for COVID-19 and that those three are on different schedules to join the team in Indianapolis.

McCormack, KU’s starting big man, is slated to join the team in Indianapolis on Friday and be in uniform for Saturday’s game. McCormack’s return is a big one for the Jayhawks. He was named the Big 12’s most improved player in 2020-21 as he averaged 13.4 points and six rebounds a game in 23 minutes per game. Self said he wasn’t sure how much McCormack would be able to play.

Wilson, who tested positive last Friday, is on track to join the team on Monday and, if KU advances to the second round, may still have an outside chance of playing in KU’s Round 2 game. Wilson is averaging 12.1 points and 8.2 rebounds this season. He and McCormack are the only two forwards who average over 11 minutes per game for the Jayhawks. Enaruna doesn’t play much so he’s not a major loss.

Kansas is making its 49th NCAA Tournament appearance and has a 108-47 record in the event. The Jayhawks have advanced to 31 Sweet 16 contests, 15 Final Fours and three of their five national championships have been in NCAA Championship format (1952, 1988, 2008). KU’s 31-consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, beginning in 1990, is the longest active streak and the longest consecutive in NCAA tourney appearances history.

Since seeding in the NCAA Tournament began in 1979, this is the fifth time Kansas entered the event a No. 3 seed. KU was also a No. 3 seed in 1985, 1991, 2005 and 2009. The Jayhawks are 8-4 all-time as a No. 3 seed.

Game Trends
  • Eagles are 20-7-1 ATS in their last 28 Saturday games.
  • Eagles are 22-8 ATS in their last 30 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Eagles are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS win.
  • Eagles are 19-9 ATS in their last 28 neutral site games.
  • Jayhawks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Jayhawks are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
  • Jayhawks are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.

Expert NBA Prediction

Kansas 76, Eastern Washington 66


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