NCAA Basketball Free Picks: Kansas State at Washington State

Kansas State AT Washington State
December 3rd, 11:00 PM EST
Current Line: Kansas St. -3
Current Total: 145
Money Line:  Kansas St. -155 / Washington St. +135

The Kansas State Wildcats enter tonight’s matchup with a 6-1 record, against Washington State, who is undefeated through five games.  Kansas State has already notched an impressive win over Gonzaga, winning comfortably by 17 points.  Washington State has played against five pushover opponents and none of the games have been particularly close.  They’ll have their first real test of the year tonight against Kansas State and it promises to be a good one.

The total has gone UNDER in all five of Kansas State’s last five games.  Washington State is 4-0 ATS and 3-0 ATS at home.  Their point differential is a ridiculous +36.2, holding their opponents to 55.4 points a game.  Kansas State has played tougher opponents and consequently has a +12.8 point differential.

Washington State will have to do a good job boxing out, as Kansas State averages 15 offensive rebounds a game.  Rodney McGruder, despite being only 6’4″, leads Kansas State in rebounding with 6.6 per game.  He is also averaging 11.3 points a game, but his three point percentage is down a lot from last year as he is only shooting 30.2% from behind the arc this year.  Kansas State’s senior point guard Jacob Pullen leads them in scoring with 16 points per game, down 3.3 from his average last year, though.

Washington State is led by their backcourt, juniors Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden, who combine for 43 points a game, but those numbers are inflated by the schedule of bad opponents thus far. Both are deadly three point shooters.  Thompson is 36.7% from behind the arc on an average of 6.0 attempts per game, and Aiden hits 41.7% on 7.2 attempts per game.  It will be up to Kansas to limit their attempts, as the three point shooting will be a key to the game.  Washington State lives and dies by the three.  Marcus Capers comes off the bench as a combo guard and actually leads Washington State in rebounding with 7.4 boards a game, 2.0 of which are offensive.  Kansas State will have to keep him off the glass as most of his points, few though they are (7 ppg) come off garbage baskets, putbacks, and the like.

Kansas State is abysmal at the line and if this game is close as it is predicted to be by spread makers, it could be a fatal flaw.  Shooting only 52.5% from the line will hurt in crunch time when teams foul if they are behind.  So even if Kansas State heads into the final minutes with a lead, it could evaporate due to their poor free throw shooting.

Ultimately this game will be determined by the high scoring backcourts of both teams.  If Kansas State can limit Washington State’s guards three point attempts and close out on shooters to prevent offensive rebounding, then they will have a great shot at winning the game.  However, if Thompson and Aden get a lot of open looks, this could be a blowout in Washington State’s favor.

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