In a second round clash of Wildcats, 6-seeded Kentucky (22-11) will take on 3-seeded Kansas State (24-9) at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, Kentucky easily handled a solid Providence team, while K-State trounced Montana State by double digits.
With the on-court action set to tip off Sunday (March 19) at 2:40 p.m. ET, Kentucky-Kansas State will air nationally on CBS. Glancing over the lines for this contest, Kentucky is favored by 3 points at DraftKings Sportsbook, despite holding the lower seed.
No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats: 22-11 (SEC rec 12-6):
First round result: Def. Providence 61-53
KenPom rating: 65.9 Overall, 116.7 Offense, 98.6 Defense
NET ranking: 26, (6-7 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: F Oscar Tshiebwe – 16.2ppg
Key stat: Kentucky is allowing only 67.6ppg to opponents in 2022-23.
Kentucky won their first game because these things happened: Their leading scorer, F Oscar Tshiebwe, is also their leading rebounder (13.5 RPG). On Thursday against Providence, Tshiebwe was absolutely everywhere, hauling in a whopping 25 rebounds. Sure, they didn't get their usual scoring output from the 6'9 Senior, but guard Antonio Reeves was there to pick up the offensive slack for Kentucky, scoring 22 points
The key matchup here will be Tshiebwe going head-to-head with K-State's leading scorer, Kevontae Johnson. Yet, under the masterful head coach John Calipari, you can assume he'll get his team favorable spots.
No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats: 24-9 (Big 12 rec 11-7):
First round result: Def. Montana State 77-65
KenPom rating: 70.2 Overall, 112.5 Offense, 70.2 Defense
NET ranking: 24, (9-8 vs. Quad 1)
Leading scorer: F Kevontae Johnson – 17.7ppg
Key stat: Defensive rating – 96.1, 49th out of 363 eligible teams.
Kansas State won their first game because these things happened: PG Markquis Nowell distributed the ball magnificently to his fellow Wildcats, collecting 14 assists to go along with his 17 points behind 3 of 6 shooting from three-point range. K-State leading scorer Kevontae Johnson paced all Wildcats with 18 points.
Kansas State will need Nowell and Johnson to stay in sync if they hope to send Kentucky home packing. The play on the perimeter will be absolutely paramount.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
Point spread: Kentucky -3
Point total: 145.5
Moneyline: UK -150/KSU +130
Against The Spread Pick: Kansas State +3
Point total pick: Under 145.5
Pick to Win: Kansas State
I can understand why the both the experts and the books respect Kentucky just a little more, here. Under coach Calipari, they will completely understand the gravity of the moment, but I have been more thoroughly impressed by K-State throughout the length of the season. Even though the SEC is no slouch on the hardwood, I firmly believe the Big 12 to be the most competitive college basketball circuit at the moment. Coach Jerome Tang currently has Kansas State humming on both ends of the floor; I like them to pull off the betting upset over lower-seeded Kentucky.