It's a battle of Wildcats when Kentucky and Kansas State headline our March Madness picks with a trip to the Sweet 16 up for grabs.
Kentucky got here by defeating Providence in a game that it controlled throughout. Meanwhile, it's been a terrific season for Kansas State.
KSU finished the regular season looking like one of the best teams in the Big 12, winning four of its last five games before falling in the conference tournament to TCU. It made it here by dispatching UC Santa Barbara, which came as no surprise to those following the March Madness odds.
What's the best bet for this one? Find out in our college basketball picks and predictions for Kentucky vs. Kansas State.
Kentucky vs Kansas State best odds
Kentucky vs Kansas State picks and predictions
This is a fascinating matchup for a multitude of reasons.
Kentucky will struggle to defend some of the ball screen actions that Kansas State runs. Kentucky's dominant displays against the likes of Tennessee, among others, were a product of those teams' lack of variety of offensive schemes.
The Vols didn't and won't attack bigs in middle ball screen actions, and thus Oscar Tshibewe's weakness needs to be exposed. It can be attacked here; it's just a matter of how efficiently. The other side of this is that Kansas State will concede a bevy of second-chance opportunities because of what's happening on the backboard.
KSU ranked dead-last in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage. Nationally, it ranks 218th in defensive rebounding percentage at around 29%. If the other night is any indication, that's problematic against what could be one of the best rebounders in college basketball history.
Kentucky has played against four teams in the SEC this season that rank closely or behind Kansas State in defensive rebounding percentage. Those schools are Texas A&M, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Florida — and Oscar Tshiebwe averaged 15.2 rebounds in those games.
Not only will I be betting on Tshiebwe's base number, but I'll also be dabbling into alternate markets when they open. It's reasonable to expect this dominance to occur in some similar fashion.
Tshiebwe looked like a man possessed to open the NCAA tournament, and I'm banking on that continuing here.
My best bet: Oscar Tshiebwe Over 13.5 rebounds (-110 at DraftKings)
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Kentucky vs Kansas State spread analysis
Anytime you have such a decisive edge on the backboard, you have to like that team in the postseason. In this case, backing Kentucky is that program.
Kansas State's plan must be to attack the middle of the floor with screening actions, as Kentucky has allowed 58% shooting off cutters and around 38% shooting off pick and rolls. A big part of that is a direct result of teams attacking the middle of the floor and exposing Tshibwe's lack of lateral quickness.
Keyontae Johnson playing well for Kansas State is a must, but he'll need help. A few players here could hurt Kentucky on cutters; it's just a matter if they will or not.
Kentucky vs Kansas State Over/Under analysis
My projections expect a high-scoring game with both teams hitting the mid-70s, and I lean to Over 144.5 (available at FanDuel).
Kentucky will have few empty possessions due to what it can do on the backboard, plus I still have some questions about John Calipari's team's defense.
Kentucky vs Kansas State betting trend to know
Kentucky is 3-13 ATS in its last 16 neutral site games. Find more college basketball betting trends for Kentucky vs. Kansas State.
Kentucky vs Kansas State game info
|Location:||Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC|
|Date:||Sunday, March 19, 2023|
|Tip-off:||2:40 p.m. ET|