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No. 3 Kansas vs. No. No. 14 Eastern Washington preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Kansas Jayhawks and Eastern Washington Eagles meet at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Oklahoma vs Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington as of March 19th at 10:30 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Kansas -10.5: 55% of handle, 40% of bets
Eastern Washington +10.5: 45% of handle, 60% of bets

Over 146.5: 18% of handle, 42% of bets
Under 146.5: 18% of handle, 58% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for Kansas vs. Eastern Washington as of March 18th at 10:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Kansas -10.5: 41% of handle, 59% of bets
Eastern Washington +10.5: 59% of handle, 41% of bets
Over 147.5: 93% of handle, 61% of bets
Under 147.5: 7% of handle, 39% of bets

COVID-19 has made forced the Kansas Jayhawks to travel to the NCAA Tournament at less than full-strength, which could impact their first-round game against the Eastern Washington Eagles Friday afternoon on TBS.

No. 3 Kansas: 20-8 (12-6 Big 12): At-large

KenPom rating: 22 Overall, 59 Offense, 6 Defense
NET ranking: 11, (7-8 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Ochai Agbaji, 14.2 points per game
Key stat: The Jayhawks led the Big 12 in defensive rebound percentage

Though the offense does not rate out great according to the metrics, Kansas has a balanced scoring attack with all five starters averaging in double digits. Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack are averaging more than 13 points per game, and freshman forward Jalen Wilson is the leading rebounder with 8.4 rebounds per game and 12.6 points. The status of McCormack for the NCAA tournament is up in the air though, and the team had to leave Kansas City and the Big 12 Championship due to COVID-19 issues.

Coach Bill Self said the team would travel to Indianapolis with three fewer players than usual, though they may join the team later on in the week.

No. 14 Eastern Washington: 16-7 (12-3 Big Sky): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 110 Overall, 86 Offense, 152 Defense
NET ranking: 114 (0-3 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Tanner Groves, 16.4 ppg
Key stat: EWU led the Big Sky with an assist/turnover ratio of 1.31

The Eagles are one of the better offensive teams in the country, averaging 78 points and 15.1 assists per game. Two players to keep an eye on for Eastern Washington are junior forward Tanner Groves and junior guard Kim Aiken Jr. Groves is the team’s leading scorer with 16.4 points per game, while also adding 8.1 rebounds per game. Aiken Jr. leads the team in rebounds (8.5), steals (1.3), and blocks (1.1). He is also right behind Groves in scoring with 11.7 points per game.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Kansas -10.5
Total: 146
Moneyline: Kansas -625, Eastern Washington +450

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Eastern Washington +10.5
Point total pick: Under 146
Pick to Win: Kansas

The Eagles have a decent chance to cover here, since Kansas is coming off COVID issues and could be missing some key players for this game. That’s the same reasoning as to why the under will hit, because the Jayhawk offense probably won’t be running as smoothly as usual.

Kansas should still win this game though; even without some players they still have more talent on their bench that can get the job done.

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