NCAA Tournament: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas State Wildcats Betting Preview
As the first weekend draws to a close, Sunday afternoon will feature a battle of the SEC versus the Big 12 as the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats (22-11) take on the No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats (24-9). This game will be played at Greensboro Coliseum, with tipoff scheduled for 2:40 pm ET.
Despite being the lower seed, Kentucky is the favorite in this one. They are -150 to win, while Kansas State’s moneyline sits at +125. The spread features Kansas State as 2.5-point underdogs, and the over/under for total points is 144.5.
Kentucky Looking To Get To Second Weekend
After finishing third in a loaded SEC this season, the Kentucky Wildcats are looking to survive the first weekend as they take on a tough Kansas State team. In the first round, they did enough to get past No. 11 Providence 61-53, but will likely need to pick it up to win Sunday.
In the victory over Providence, Antonio Reeves, and Jacob Toppin combined for 40 points, nine rebounds and two assists. As impressive as those performances were, the most impressive might have been by forward Oscar Tshiebwe. He finished with eight points and a whopping 25 rebounds.
As a unit, Kentucky ranks 85th in the nation in scoring, averaging 74.6 points per game. In 31 total games, it is Tshiebwe that has led the way averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.
On the defensive end, the Wildcats rank 89th, allowing opponents an average of 67.6 points per game.
Kansas State Trying To Overcome Rough Record As Underdogs
At 24-9, the Kansas State Wildcats have had a solid season this year. One area that they have struggled is as underdogs. In their last nine games, they are just 2-7 straight up as underdogs.
After a 77-65 win over No. 14 Montana Friday, Kansas State is hoping to get back in a groove and prevail as underdogs Sunday afternoon. In the win over Montana, Keyontae Johnson had a team-high 18 points and eight rebounds. Markquis Nowell also had a strong performance with 17 points, 14 assists, and six rebounds.
Both Johnson (17.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists) and Nowell (16.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 2.4 steals) led Kansas State during the regular season too.
Offensively, the Wildcats rank 61st in the nation in scoring, averaging 75.5 points per game. Kansas State ranks 127th overall in terms of scoring defense, allowing 68.9 points per game (78 per game over their last three games).
Take Kentucky To Win Straight Up
One thing is for sure, the Wildcats will win. In all seriousness, though, this one should be a fantastic matchup.
Kentucky has gone 6-2 both straight up and against the spread in their last eight games. They are 4-1 against the spread in the last five games against Big 12 teams.
Coming into this game, Kansas State is 5-2 both straight up and against the spread in their last seven contests. They are also 11-0 in their last 11 games played on a Sunday.
It will be really interesting to see the potential matchup of Keyontae Johnson versus Oscar Tshiebwe. Whoever wins that battle might end up winning the game. Johnson has had success all season, but expect him to have some struggles with the physical Tshiebwe.
For that reason, take Kentucky to win this one straight up at -150.