Who saw this coming? Florida Atlantic and Kansas State will meet this evening in our March Madness picks with the winner ultimately heading to the Final Four.
Kansas State got here after two brilliant individual performances from point guard Markquis Nowell. In the previous game against Michigan State, the senior transfer guard set the NCAA Tournament record for assists with 19. In the match beforehand, Nowell dropped his third-highest scoring output of the season with 27 points in a win against Kentucky.
Meanwhile, FAU's road to this point has been more team-oriented. It rallied late to eventually comfortably defeat Tennessee on Thursday night. The round before that saw the Owls comfortably prevail against Fairleigh Dickinson, but the opening-round matchup against Memphis was the closest when FAU needed a near buzzer-beating layup to stave off elimination.
With the Wildcats set as slight favorites on Saturday according to March Madness odds, where does the betting edge lie? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Kansas State vs. Florida Atlantic on March 25.
Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State best odds
Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State picks and predictions
It feels like destiny for the Kansas State Wildcats at this point. But, of course, you can make that argument for any team at this stage. Still, the sublime performances that the Wildcats have gotten from Nowell overshadow that.
The crux of this handicap and the main reason I've landed on Kansas State here is the Florida Atlantic Owls' isolation defense. Florida Atlantic has allowed 42% on isolation sets this year, along with 0.94 points per possession. Against FDU, the Owls allowed isolation scores on 10 possessions.
Wildcats' guard Markquis Nowell has arguably been the best scorer in the tournament and has been able to break down multiple opponents in a row in isolation situations. That's a massive concern for Florida Atlantic here, particularly when noting that Nowell's backcourt mate Keyonate Johnson is also coming off his best performance of the tournament — scoring 22 points against Michigan State on Thursday.
Outside of Kansas State's offensive advantages, it also boasts a Top-50 rate in turnovers forced this season. While Florida Atlantic isn't a team that's had a turnover issue much of the season, you got to wonder how much of that is built on the schedule it's played. Compared to its opponent, the Owls have yet to see the backcourt speed of the likes of the Wildcats.
You're getting a better team here at a fair price. Kansas State has played incredibly in this tournament, and it now faces a team that struggles to defend what's made the Wildcats play so well.
There's no chance I'm stepping in front of that.
My best bet: Kansas State moneyline (-120 at FanDuel)
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Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State spread analysis
My projections actually make Kansas State a multiple-possession favorite, and the backcourt advantages that the Wildcats boast make me comfortable in backing them to win on Saturday.
Head Coach Jerome Tang has Kansas State playing with unbelievable confidence right now. You can see how contagious it's been within their team, and it's absolutely essential at this point in the tourney.
The bold manner in which Tang proudly stated that "we had more dudes than them" after Kansas State's win against Kentucky perfectly personifies what this program is about.
Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State Over/Under analysis
You have to lean to the Over here.
Both teams are comfortable in transition, and neither defends in transition particularly well. I won't be surprised if we see over 70 possessions, which would ultimately lend its hand to the Over.
I've barely mentioned the Owls' offense, but it's good enough to score here. They came off a poor shooting night against Tennessee, and this K-State defense is nowhere in the league of the Vols' stop unit.
I'm expecting Johnell Davis and Nicholas Boyd to succeed against a Wildcats' defense that struggles both in transition and against cutters. If FAU does its part, this one should go Over relatively comfortably.
Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State betting trend to know
Kansas State is 5-1 ATS in its last six following successfully cashing ATS in its previous game. Find more college basketball betting trends for Florida Atlantic vs. Kansas State.
Florida Atlantic vs Kansas State game info
|Location:||Madison Square Garden, New York, NY|
|Date:||Saturday, March 25, 2023|
|Tip-off:||6:09 p.m. ET|