Midwest Region Third Round Betting Picks: #8 Kentucky Wildcats vs #1 Wichita State Shockers
2014 NCAA Tournament
Midwest Region – Third Round
Scottrade Center – St. Louis, Missouri
#8 Kentucky Wildcats vs #1 Wichita State Shockers
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 2:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Wichita State -3
Current Line: Wichita State -4
Opening Total: 132 1/2
Current Total; 134
Opening Money Line: Wichita State -160 / Kentucky +135
Current Money Line: Wichita State -185 / Kentucky +160
At the beginning of the season there were some whispers that Kentucky could go undefeated with their great recruiting class. That didn’t happen of course, but one team did become the first team in Men’s college basketball to ever start the season 35-0. The Wichita State Shockers are undefeated as they take on the Kentucky Wildcats in the Midwest region third round Sunday. The winner of Kentucky and Wichita State will face the #4 seed and defending national champion Louisville in the Midwest regional semifinals in Indianapolis next week. This is the first meeting between Kentucky and Wichita State.
Kentucky is 25-10 and went 12-6 in the SEC and tied for second with Georgia behind 18-0 Florida. Kentucky lost to Florida 61-60 in the SEC Championship game. Kentucky beat #9 seed Kansas State 56-49 in the second round Friday.
Wichita State went 18-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference and won the MVC Tournament also in St. Louis. I Wichita State beat Indiana State 83-69 in the MVC Championship game. The Shockers crushed #16 Cal Poly 64-37 in the second round Friday.
Kentucky is coached by John Calipari. The Wildcats have losses to Michigan State in Chicago, Baylor in Arlington, TX, at North Carolina, Arkansas twice, at LSU, Florida 3 times, and at South Carolina. Kentucky has key wins over Robert Morris, Cleveland State, Eastern Michigan, Providence in Brooklyn, Boise State, Belmont, Louisville, Mississippi State twice, at Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Georgia twice, at Missouri, Ole Miss twice, at Auburn, LSU twice, and Alabama. Kentucky is 16-15-2 ATS and the total is 12-19-1 this season.
Kentucky is outscoring teams 76-67 this season. The Wildcats are shooting 45.1% from the field and 32.5% from 3 point range. Kentucky makes 68.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.3% from the field and 31.7% from 3 point range. Kentucky is #51 or better in both categories nationally. The Wildcats average 41.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.7 per game. Kentucky is #5 in rebounding and #27 in rebounds allowed nationally. The Wildcats average 11.5 assists, 12.2 turnovers, 4.8 steals and 6.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.4 assists, 11 turnovers, 5.8 steals and 3.1 blocks per game.
Forward Julius Randle averages 15 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists. Forward/guard James Young averages 14.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Guard Aaron Harrison averages 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. His twin brother Andrew averages 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Andrew injured his elbow in the second half against Kansas State but is listed as probable against Wichita State. Forward Willie Cauley-Stein averages 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 3 blocks per game. Alex Poythress and and Dakari Johnson will also get significant minutes.
Wichita State is coached by Gregg Marshall. The Shockers have key wins over Western Kentucky, William & Mary, at Tulsa, DePaul and BYU in a tournament in Kansas City, at St. Louis, Oral Roberts, Tennessee, at Alabama, North Carolina Central, and Davidson. Wichita State beat every team in the Missouri Valley at least twice, and beat Evansville, Missouri State and Indiana State 3 times each. The Shockers are 25-6-1 ATS and the total is 16-15 this season.
Wichita State is outscoring teams 76-60 this season. The Shockers are #11 nationally in points allowed. Wichita State is shooting 45.9% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. The Shockers make 73% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.2% from the field and 31% from 3 point range. The Shockers are #13 in field goal defense and #34 in 3 point defense nationally. Wichita State averages 38.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 26. The Shockers are #24 in rebounding and #2 in rebounds allowed nationally. Wichita State averages 13.5 assists, 10.4 turnovers, 7 steals and 5.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 10 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 4.6 steals and 2.6 blocks per game.
Forward Cleanthony Early averages 15.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Guard Ron Baker averages 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Guard Fred VanVleet averages 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Guard Tekele Cotton averages 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Darius Carter averages 8.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Chadrack Lufile, Nick Wiggins, Kadeem Coleby, and Evan Wessel will also get significant minutes.
Kentucky is 4-0 ATS in Sunday games, against teams with winning records, overall and in neutral site games, 5-1 in NCAA Tournament games, and 5-16 after allowing less than 50 points.
Wichita State is 6-0 ATS in NCAA Tournament games, 7-0-1 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 14-3 in neutral site games, 4-1 in Sunday games, and after allowing 50 points or less, 39-11-1 against teams with winning records, 19-6-1 in non-conference games, 37-12-3 after a straight up win, 37-13-3 after a cover, 36-13-2 overall, and 7-3 against SEC teams.
The consensus is that the Midwest is by far the most difficult of the four regions with such teams as Wichita State, Louisiville, Duke, Michigan, and Kentucky. Some say the committee did that on purpose in order for Wichita State to have to justify their #1 seed and undefeated record. The Shockers are a very good team, who made it to the Final Four last year. Whomever wins between Kentucky and Wichita State, we will have a great game in the Sweet 16. If Kentucky wins, we get a rematch of one of the best rivalries in college basketball. If Wichita wins we get a rematch against Louisville, who beat the Shockers in a fantastic game last year at the Final Four. I think Wichita State finds a way to pull it out in the end against Kentucky.