Kansas St Kentucky

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Kansas State



Sweet 16



The South Region has been a mess in the NCAA Tournament and this Game is only part of it. Neither Kansas State nor Kentucky had overly difficult matchups to make it to the Sweet 16, but this one should be different. Kentucky was an early -6.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook for the Game in Atlanta.

Kentucky will likely have the majority of fans at this region being only about a six-hOur drive from the site. The bracket has broken perfectly for the Wildcats as they are the clear favorites to reach the Final 4. Davidson put up a fight, but UK led most of the way and it was the same situation against Buffalo.

Kansas State got a bit lucky in its second Game against UMBC, although still looked solid in the opening-round win over Creighton. The biggest thing for these Wildcats is that leading scorer and rebounder Dean Wade plays. He missed the first two Games with a foot sprain and gave himself a “98 percent” chance to play against Kentucky. If Wade can’t go, it’ll be extremely difficult for KSU to win because it needs the depth down low against this lengthy UK squad.

Both of these teams have survived via defense for most of the season, but there’s a glaring advantage Kentucky has on the offensive end. It’s one of the best in the country at getting offensive rebounds and drawing fouls. Kansas State is almost the opposite with the 307th-best defensive rebounding percentage to go with bad numbers for amount of free throws allowed. To win this Game, Wade and Makol Mawien (and everyone else) will need to show up on the boards.

Speaking of that matchup in the frontcOurt, Kentucky rolls with a few guys depending on the matchup and that’s usually Kevin Knox and Wenyen Gabriel. Neither are considered regular bigs as both love to shoot it from outside, but they also have the size to defend in the post. PJ Washington is in that same vein and is probably the team’s best post player.

If Wade plays, Kansas State may have to use him and Mawien at the same time, which rarely happened this season. Otherwise, Xavier Sneed and Cartier Diarra will have to play against bigger guys and that probably won’t end well for KSU. It’s another difficult situation for KSU in the backcOurt with Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown having to deal with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has become Kentucky’s best player. Brown is the creator for Kansas State, but if he gets matched with Gilgeous-Alexander, that could be problematic for him as he has tendencies to force shots. It also doesn’t help that Kentucky has one of the best three-point defenses in the country.

Gilgeous-Alexander, a 6-foot-6 point guard, has been close to unstoppable for the Wildcats already with 46 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in the two Tournament Games. Kansas State has decent overall defense, but doesn’t really have a guard that can contain what GIlgeous-Alexander does.

KSU had a solid season in the Big 12, but never had enough to beat the elite teams in the Conference getting swept by Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Kentucky has turned into an elite team and has too many players to lose this Game. It will win in the paint and on the perimeter and it’s hard to see K State keeping this one close unless Wade plays and shots fall from deep.

Our Pick – Kentucky – 5.5

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