Free NCAA Basketball picks & predictions for tonight's matchup between Iowa State and Kansas. Where do we think that the best betting value lies?

The Iowa State Cyclones narrowly lost to the Kansas Jayhawks on two separate occasions in the regular season. Now they’ll get a third crack at Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals

NCAA Basketball odds makers had opened Kansas as the 6.5 point favorite, but the early rush of sports picks has since pushed the line down to -5.5 at manny odds shops. The total has risen from its opening offering of 142 to the current listing of 145.

Iowa State can win because…

The Cyclones should have beaten the Kansas Jayhawks each of the first two times these teams played in the regular season, albeit for different sets of reasons. In the first meeting, held on the Jayhawks' home floor at Phog Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., Iowa State held a 79-76 lead with eight seconds left. The Cyclones should have fouled Kansas before the Jayhawks got a chance to launch a game-tying three-point attempt, but ISU coach Fred Hoiberg opted to play defense instead. Kansas freshman Ben McLemore nailed a game-tying triple, and Kansas went on to claim a 97-89 win in overtime on Jan. 9.

On Feb. 25, Iowa State held a four-point lead with 15 seconds left and then a two-point lead with six seconds left. Kansas, down 90-88, had the ball with a chance to take the lead on a three or tie with a two-point shot. KU's Elijah Johnson drove the ball up the middle of the lane, but he appeared to commit a charge as he wildly flung the ball toward the basket, about five feet from the rim. At worst, the play was a no-call, but the official standing nearest the play called a blocking foul. Johnson got two foul shots with 4.9 seconds left and made them both, forcing overtime. Kansas had been bailed out in a supremely important moment. Iowa State did not get a fair call when it needed it most. These moments have lingered in the minds of the Cyclones over the past few weeks. Iowa State wanted to get an extra shot at Kansas, and it has obtained it. Expect the Cyclones to be the far more motivated team on Friday. They will execute and hustle with far more urgency than the Jayhawks will. Conference tournaments can be like this. 

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas can win because… 

The Jayhawks are aware that they were lucky to win each of the first two games between these teams, and will be motivated to play a lot better than they did on Jan. 9 and Feb. 25. Kansas head coach Bill Self, knowing that his team lost by over 20 points this past Saturday to Baylor, will try to get his team's full attention. Kansas is playing for a possible No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, so Self is going to tell his players that there's a lot to play for in this contest. He will also tell his team that the first two games against Iowa State were not reflective of the kind of quality Kansas basketball expects from itself as a program. The Jayhawks were spotty on defense in both games, and need to bring a higher level of focus to the floor. Kansas might be 2-0 in this head-to-head matchup, but Self will certainly think that the Jayhawks are 0-2 in this matchup, having failed to play a complete game against the Cyclones this season. The psychology of combat here can certainly work in the Jayhawks' favor.

Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.

Outlook & College Basketball Betting Prediction: 

This should be a very close game. Iowa State is going to be desperate, but Kansas does have incentive to win this game, due to the fact that a No. 1 seed in the South Region is on the table and waiting to be claimed during conference tournament week. All in all, this last carrot should enable Kansas to rise to the occasion and play one of its better games of the season. Add Kansas to your NCAA Basketball picks in this situation, though ISU will keep the game competitive until the very last second of regulation time. 

College Basketball Pick: Kansas -6 at Matchbook