Midwest Region Second Round Betting Preview: #9 Kansas State Wildcats vs #8 Kentucky Wildcats

2014 NCAA Tournament
Midwest Region – Second Round

Scottrade Center – St. Louis, Missouri
#9 Kansas State Wildcats vs #8 Kentucky Wildcats
Friday, March 21, 2014, 9:40 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Kentucky -5
Current Line: Kentucky -6 1/2
Opening Total: 133 1/2
Current Total: 132 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kentucky -220 / Kansas State +185
Current Money Line: Kentucky -285 / Kansas State +240 

Kentucky is a 6.5 point favorite against Kansas State in the Midwest Region second round in St. Louis Friday.
Kentucky is a 6.5 point favorite against Kansas State in the Midwest Region second round in St. Louis Friday.

The Kentucky Wildcats were a top five team in the pre-season poll. However, the Wildcats did not live up to those lofty expectations and are a disappointing 24-10 on the season. Kentucky can redeem themselves with a good performance in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats earned the #8 seed in the Midwest region. Kentucky opens up play with a second round game in St. Louis against #9 seed 20-12 Kansas State Friday night. The winner of Kentucky and Kansas State will face the winner of #1 Wichita State and #16 Cal Poly in Sunday’s third round.

Kansas State went 10-8 in the Big 12 and finished fifth in the conference. The Wildcats have lost 3 straight games including 91-85 to Iowa State in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Kansas State went 7-8 against NCAA Tournament teams this season. The Wildcats are making their 28th trip to the NCAA Tournament and fifth straight.

Kentucky 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. The Wildcats went 3-6 against NCAA Tournament teams this season. Kentucky is making their 54th trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats missed the Tournament last year, and were unable to defend their 2012 National Championship.

Kentucky leads the series 8-0 against Kansas State. Kentucky won the last meeting in 2008 in Las Vegas. Kentucky beat Kansas State for the 1951 National Championship.

Kansas State is coached by Bruce Weber. The Wildcats have losses to Northern Colorado, Charlotte and Georgetown in a tournament in Puerto Rico, at Kansas, at Texas, Iowa State twice, at West Virginia, Baylor twice, at Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State. Kansas State has key wins over Oral Roberts, Long Beach State twice (once in Puerto Rico), Ole Miss, Gonzaga in Wichita, Tulane in Brooklyn, George Washington, Oklahoma State,  TCU twice, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas Tech twice, Texas, Kansas and Iowa State. The Wildcats are 16-13-1 ATS and the total is 12-17 this season.

Kansas State is outscoring teams 70-66 this season. Kansas State is shooting 43.6% from the field and 33.4% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #210 or worse out of 351 teams nationally in scoring, field goal percentage and three point shooting. Kansas State is #301 in free throw shooting at 65.8% from the line. Wildcat opponents are shooting 40.8% from the field and 29.4% from 3 point range. Kansas State is #7 in three point defense nationally. The Wildcats average 36 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.8 per game. Kansas State averages 15.5 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 6.2 steals, and 3 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.6 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.5 steals and 3.8 blocks.

Guard Marcus Foster averages 15.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Forward Thomas Gipson averages 11.8 points and 6.5 points per game. Guard Shane Southwell averages 9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Guard Will Spradling averages 7.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Wesley Iwundu averages 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. Forward Nino Williams averages 6.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Nigel Johnson, Jevon Thomas, D.J. Johnson, and Omari Lawrence will also get time in the rotation.

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 15-15-2 ATS and the total is 12-18-1 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. 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.

Kansas State is 4-0 ATS in non-conference games, 4-1 against SEC teams, 2-6 overall, 1-4 in Friday games, after failing to cover, and after allowing 90 points or more, and 1-5 against teams with winning records.

Kentucky is 4-1 ATS in NCAA Tournament games, and 4-1-1 in neutral site games.

No one seems to be giving Kansas State a chance in this game. Most experts have already penciled in Kentucky vs Wichita State in the third round. Well, Kansas State is a very dangerous team and should not be taken lightly. Both teams should have strong crowd support as St. Louis is relatively close to both campuses. Kentucky seems to be playing their best basketball of the season, and as long as they don’t have to play Florida, they should advance. I like Kentucky to win, but it will come down to the wire.

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