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Kansas State vs Kentucky Prediction, Picks & Odds | NCAA Tournament

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Published March 18, 2023
12 min read

The March Madness Tournament is heating up, and upsets are happening. A 16 seed and a 15 seed won in the first round and will both have a chance to advance to the Sweet 16. But, in this matchup, either Kansas State or Kentucky will advance to the second weekend of the tournament. In the battle of the Wildcats, you can bet and win money just by being a new DraftKings member.

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Kansas State vs Kentucky Prediction, Picks & Odds | NCAA Tournament

#3 Kansas State Preview

Kansas State might have started the season better than any team in the country. They started 15-1 and 17-2 on the year and reached fifth in the AP Poll. During that stretch, the Wildcats picked up wins against West Virginia, Texas, Baylor, and Kansas. They still finished the season with a great 23-9 record in a tough Big 12 conference. But by going 5-6 in its final 11 games and losing its first game in the conference tournament, Kansas State was trending in the wrong direction. 

The Wildcats excel at two things on the court: making a lot of free throws and dishing out a lot of assists. That’s how Kansas State won the majority of its games and they are usually good at closing out contests. In the first round, Kansas State had an impressive 21 assists as a team but only shot 9-for-12 from the free throw line. The Wildcats average 16 free throw makes per game by attacking the rim and drawing contact or dishing it out to the wing for an assist. When the assists numbers and free throw attempts are high, it’s hard to stop Kansas State. 

Key Players & Key Stats

Kansas State is led by two seniors that contribute a lot offensively. Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson were both named All-Big 12 First Team this season and Johnson was also named Newcomer of the Year. Nowell averages 16.8 points and 7.6 assists per game, while Johnson averages 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game for Kansas State this season. 

Both players carried their great season averages in the first-round win against Montana State. Nowell put together a solid 17-point, 14-assist performance, and Johnson finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. How far Kansas State goes depends on these two players, especially when Nowell has high assist numbers. When the Wildcats guard has at least 10 assists in a game, they are 9-0 on the season.

NCAA Tournament Betting Tips: How to Bet on March Madness: Ultimate Betting Strategy

#6 Kentucky Preview 

Kentucky had some bad losses this year like a home defeat against an 11-win South Carolina team and a road loss to a .500 Georgia team. It was those types of losses that put Kentucky on the bubble in the middle part of the season.But they ended the season strong, finishing 11-5 in their last 16 games. During that stretch, Kentucky had some nice wins, beating Tennessee twice, Auburn, Arkansas, and Texas A&M. So what Kentucky team would show in the tournament? 

In the first round against Providence, it was the late-season Wildcats team that showed up. They controlled the entire game and played terrific defense to hold the Friars to just 36.2% from the field. But the biggest factor in the win was the rebounds, especially offensively. Kentucky outrebounded Providence 48-31 and 18-8 on the offensive glass. The rebounding dominance is nothing new for the Wildcats, though, as they rank top three nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.6). 

Key Players & Key Stats

The most impactful player for Kentucky is Oscar Tshiebwe. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game this season. His presence inside has been huge for the Wildcats all year, but never bigger than in the first round. Tshiebwe brought down a season-high 25 rebounds against Providence, including 11 offensive rebounds. He wasn’t much of an offensive weapon in that game with just eight points, but he didn’t need to be. 

Kentucky has a handful of other players that can score for them on offense. Antonio Reeves and Jacob Toppin are two excellent scorers for the Wildcats and showed up big time in the Round of 64 matchup. Reeves, who averages 14.4 points a game, tallied 22 points on 5-of-9 shooting from deep. Toppin, who averages 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds, also showed out with 18 points and six rebounds. 

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Odds, Previews, Picks, Best Bets for #3 Kansas State vs #6 Kentucky 

It’s the battle of the Wildcats in this Round of 32 game between Kansas State and Kentucky. Despite being the higher seed, Kentucky is a 2-point favorite entering the contest. The key in this game will be if Kansas State can stop Kentucky’s big man Tshiebwe. Coming off his monster performance, he will look to replicate that. But it won’t be that easy for him with 6-foot-10 forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin likely matching up with him. 

On defense, there’s not much that Kansas State is bad at. They’re a very solid three-point defending team – just holding opponents to 30.1% from behind the arch – and they are great at getting takeaways. Kentucky already struggles to take care of the ball by turning it over 11.7 times a game and doesn’t shoot many threes per game. Now, they have to face a defense that excels in both categories. 

But the matchup underneath will determine this game. Kentucky is a great rebounding team, while Kansas State struggles at times with allowing offensive rebounds. Kansas State has the size to match up with Kentucky’s Tshiebwe, and if they can prevent offensive rebounds in this game, they will come away with the win. Since Nowell and Johnson are most trustworthy than Reeves and Toppin in this game, I’m rolling with Kansas State as an underdog and taking the money line. Kansas State can match Kentucky’s size and physicality inside, which will help them come away with an “upset” win. 

NCAA Tournament Betting Sites: Best March Madness Betting Sites & Sportsbook Apps 2023

Kansas State vs Kentucky How to Watch

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina @Greensboro Coliseum

Game Time & Date: 3/19 @2:40 ET

TV Network: CBS

Streaming: Paramount+, March Madness App

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Richard Janvrin

567 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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