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The #6 seeded Kentucky Wildcats play the #3 seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament round of 32 on Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. Kentucky defeated the Providence Friars on Friday 61-53 in their opening round game of the Big Dance led by Oscar Tshiebewe’s 25 points. Kentucky has won six of the last eight. Kansas State opened its NCAA Tournament with a 77-65 victory over Montana State with Markquis Nowell scoring 17 points. K-State has won five of the last seven. Sahvir Wheeler is out for Kentucky, while K-State does not have any players on its injury report.
Kentucky wins with strong play at both ends
Kentucky opened its NCAA tournament with an 8-point victory over Providence on Fiday and held the high-scoring Friars to just 53 points. Kentucky's defense gave up a field goal shooting percentage of 36% and a 3-point shooting percentage of 21% to Providence. Kentucky held Providence to just seven offensive rebounds giving up very few second-look opportunities. Kentucky allows an average of only 67.6 points per game and 42.7% shooting while scoring an average of 75.1 points per game and shooting 46.0%.
Kentucky's leading scorer is Oscar Tshiebwe with an average of 16.2 points per game, while Antonio Reeves is second in scoring with an average of 14.6 points per game. Two other players for the Wildcats are averaging double figures in scoring. Cason Wallace is the leader in assists with an average of 4.3 dishes per contest. Kentucky outrebounds its opponents 39-27 and is led by Tshiebwe, who averages 13.5 boards per contest. Kentucky is averaging 6.5 steals, 3.8 block shots and 11.7 turnovers per game.
Kansas State’s Defense is its key to success
Kansas State gave up 65 points to Montana State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament while holding the Bobcats to 46% shooting overall and 29% shooting from 3-point territory. Kansas State cleaned up on the boards holding Montana State to 20 rebounds including only five offensive rebounds. Kansas State shot well against Montana State hitting 58% of its shots overall. During the regular season, Kansas State scored an average of 75.8 points per game and allowed an average of 68.7 points per game.
All about the angle #KStateMBB x #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/5qRfODb5k3— K-State Men's Basketball (@KStateMBB) March 18, 2023
Keyontae Johnson is the leading scorer for Kansas State with an average of 17.7 points per game, while Markquis Nowell, who scored 17 points and handed out 14 assists in Friday's victory, is the second leading scorer with an average of 16.8 points per game. Nowell is the leader in assists with an average of 7.8 dishes per contest. The king of the boards is Johnson with an average of 7.1 rebounds per game. Kansas State averages 35.6 rebounds per game while allowing an average of 30.2 boards per contest. The Wildcats are averaging 7.7 steals, 2.8 blocked shots and 14.3 turnovers per game.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Kentucky is coming off a strong outing against Providence, holding the Friars to 53 points and 36% field goal shooting. Kentucky cleaned up on the boards against Providence with 46 rebounds including 16 off the offensive glass, while holding Providence to 27 rebounds and only seven offensive boards. Kentucky is 33rd in the nation in offensive rebounds allowed at just 6.9 per game, which is not surprising as Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebewe is averaging 13.5 rebounds per game which is first in the nation. Kansas State allows an average of 8.6 offensive rebounds per game which is 226th. Kentucky has covered the spread in six of its last eight overall and in each of the last five when playing against a team that has a winning percentage above .600.
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Full-Game Total Pick
The total has finished under in 14 of the last 19 games that Kentucky has played in the NCAA tournament and the total has finished under in five of the last six games that Kansas State has played against a team with a winning percentage higher than .600. Both defenses are tough in this matchup as Kansas State allows an average of 68.7 points per game and Kentucky allows an average of 67.6 points per game. Kentucky also plays a very slow tempo for them, ranking 258th according to KenPom.