Quick Scout: What the Vegas line for KU Jayhawks vs. Iona Gaels seems to indicate

·3 min read

Before every KU men’s basketball game, Jesse Newell previews the Jayhawks’ upcoming opponent with a scouting report and prediction.

Sunday’s game: Iona vs. No. 4 Kansas, Noon Central, HP Field House, Kissimmee, Florida

TV/Streaming: ESPN

Opponent’s record: 6-1

KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 125

Point spread: KU by 13 1/2.

All statistics are from KenPom.com, Hoop-Math.com and Synergy Sports Technology. KenPom stats also only include Division I competition.

3 STRENGTHS

• Rim protection: Iona has blocked 18% of opponents’ two-point attempts — good for the 11th-best mark nationally.

• Drawing fouls: The Gaels have attempted at least 20 free throws in six of their seven games this season; the only exception was Friday’s 72-65 loss to Belmont.

• Defensive glass: Iona has pulled down 76% of opponents’ missed shots thus far, ranking 58th in the NCAA and second among MAAC teams.

3 WEAKNESSES

• Creating havoc: This is a rare team from coach Rick Pitino that doesn’t turn up the heat defensively; Iona is 302nd in defensive turnover percentage and 286th in steal rate.

• Three-point shooting: The Gaels shoot fewer threes than an NCAA average team, yet they’ve made only 31% of those tries in seven combined contests.

• Transition offense: Iona runs a decent amount offensively, but it has struggled to finish in those scenarios, ranking 315th in adjusted shooting percentage on fast breaks.

PLAYER TO WATCH

6-foot-9 forward Nelly Junior Joseph (No. 23)

Iona forward Nelly Junior Joseph.
Iona forward Nelly Junior Joseph.

Plus: Efficient offensive player who takes on significant role

Plus: Best offensive skill is drawing fouls

Plus: Excellent shot-blocker

Plus: Strong on offensive glass

Plus: Rarely turns it over

Minus: Doesn’t finish at rim as well as you’d expect given his size and is 1-for-8 mid-range shooter

Minus: Foul prone

Minus: Synergy’s logs indicate, despite his shot-blocking ability, that he has issues guarding in post-up settings

PREDICTION

To me, this pick against the spread comes down to a simple question: Do you believe KU is a much different team than it was before its loss to Dayton on Friday?

Because from an overall numbers perspective, everything is nearly the same in this contest, except for the line.

Dayton was 119th in KenPom, while Iona is 125th. KU will play both contests at the same facility with roughly the same fan support, but instead of the Jayhawks being a 15 1/2-point favorite like they were Friday, they’re laying 13 1/2 points Sunday.

Here’s at least one reason to think that is an overreaction: Numbers from ShotQuality indicate KU ran into some super-awful luck against Dayton, dropping a game that, based on the shots both teams took, should only happen 10% of the time.

The two-point swinging of the line, then, seems to me like a bit of a reach.

Maybe you could argue that the loss will result in lessened confidence. Or perhaps it’ll force coach Bill Self into thinking he needs to make grand changes, which could impact Sunday’s outcome if he goes deeper down his bench.

From a 5,000-foot view, though, this seems like a betting line overreaction based more on a fluky result than a team’s overall long-term trajectory.

I think KU wins here, and if picking against the spread, I’ll take the side with two free points that weren’t available Friday.

Kansas 83, Iona 65

Jesse’s pick to cover spread: Kansas

HAWK TO ROCK

Jalen Wilson had a rough outing against Dayton, but this seems like a perfect bounce-back situation on paper. Driving wing-type players have racked up free throws against Iona this season, and Wilson — on KU’s roster — best fits that mold. It seems like an excellent spot for Wilson to get his first double-digit scoring game this season.

Last game prediction: Kansas 73, Dayton 64 (Actual: Dayton 74-73) ✔️

2021-22 record vs. spread: 2-3

Last eight seasons’ record vs. spread: 132-108-3 (55%)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting