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After an exciting Selection Sunday, the March Madness and NCAA Tournament field is set.
Coming out of the East Region is No. 3 seed Kansas State taking on No. 14 Montana State.
Since 1985, a No. 3 seed has lost in the opening round to a No. 14 seed 22 times
Here, we’ll see if the Montana State March Madness begins or Kansas State’s NCAA Tournament run continues in this Round of 64 matchup.
Let’s dive in.
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Coming out of the Big Sky Conference, Montana State finished the year 25-9 and went 15-3 in conference play. They’re amid an eight-game winning streak and last lost to Weber State on February 9, 73-63 on the road.
Montana State is a defensive-based team, allowing 66.3 points per game (70th), 78th in defensive efficiency, 6.4 steals per game, 21.9 defensive rebounds per game, and opponents have an effective field goal percentage of 49.5%.
Montana State could be better offensively, ranking 121st in the nation with 73.9 points per game. They get plenty of contributions from their bench, averaging 24.06 points per game, and have a 52.5% effective field goal percentage.
The team also has a scoring margin of +7.
The Bobcats are led by former Washington point guard RaeQuan Battle. This season, Battle averages a team-high 17.4 points per game and brings in close to three rebounds.
Regarding rebounds, the Bobcats could be better, as Jubrile Belo leads the team with just 6.1 per game.
Darius Brown II sits atop the team with 4.8 assists per game and also steals the ball the most, averaging 1.8 per bout.
Of the players who average at least 20 minutes per game, Brown II leads the way with a 40.9% rate from the three-point line.
Led by head coach Jerome Tang who took a program that didn’t receive a single preseason AP vote to a now No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State has faced its fair share of adversity this season.
However, the team has shown throughout the season that it can score, posting 116 against Texas, 98 against IUW, 97 against Baylor, 96 against Nevada, and more.
On a per-game basis, the Wildcats rank 84th in the nation, averaging 75.8 points. They receive a lot of their offense from their starting five. The bench averages just 17.35 points per game, which ranks 218th in the nation.
The Wildcats also see 11.32 points per game from fastbreaks, have an effective field goal percentage of 51.6% (157th), and shoot just 34.53% from beyond the arch (164th).
While Kansas State ranks 84th in the nation in points per game, the Wildcats have two excellent scorers in Keyontae Johnson (17.7) and Markquis Nowell (16.8). Johnson also leads the team in rebounds with seven and Nowell leads the team in assists (7.6) and steals (2.4).
These two players make the Wildcats' offense go as they also have three-point shooting percentages of 41.9% and 34.6%, respectively.
Another notable contributor isNae’Qwan Tomlin (10.2 points and six rebounds per game)/
PointsBet Sportsbook has the Kansas State Wildcats as 8.5-point favorites over the Bobcats. While the Wildcats should win this game, we must recognize the defensive prowess of Montana State and Jubrile Belo in the paint.
Kansas State commits 17.8 fouls per game, which could mean a bit of trouble for them, especially if Johnson and/or Nowell land in hot water.
The Bobcats are inside the top 80 in the nation in defense, and the offensive points per game differential, while in the Wildcats' favor, is less than two points.
Again, the Wildcats win this game but take the Bobcats +8.5.
Best Bet: Montana State +8.5 (-110) at PointsBet
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Game Time & Date: March 17, 2023, at 9:40 PM ET
TV Network: CBS
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.More info on Richard Janvrin
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