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Posted at 1:00 PM EST.
Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - Philips Arena - Atlanta, Georgia
9:37 PM EST. For the first time there will be no number one seeds in the Sweet 16, which just goes to show how hard it is to win consistently in today's game after the NBA instituted its age limit. In the past, great teams would grow together, but now many of the nation's best programs are nothing more than an inconvenient stopover for high school standouts before they go to the pros. Enter the Kentucky Wildcats, who are the poster boys of the one-and-done era. Coach John Calipari's current class of freshman Wildcats' claws aren't nearly as sharp as those in the past. In this tournament, UK has had its hands full with #12 Davidson and #13 Buffalo before pulling away late. The latter resulted in a 20-point blowout on paper that was much closer on the court before the Bulls completely imploded. Regardless of the result, Kentucky is now the class of the South Region. Calipari couldn't help himself when he quipped, “I betcha that committee is mad right now. They never saw this coming. They may want to re-bracket.” That smugness has trickled down to his players, as this was leading scorer Kevin Knox's response to K-State welcoming Dean Wade back into the lineup, “I hope he plays so they don’t have an excuse.” You will no doubt pay a premium to back Kentucky tonight, as the pundits boast about Calipari's 6-0 record with UK in the Sweet 16, as well as his 14.5 point margin of victory in those games, but those stats just make this number tonight look that much more appealing to Kentucky backers. We could sell you Kentucky in a second but that’s not what we do. We'll leave that to the prediction machines that cruch numbers and falsely believe they are getting an edge. They'll charge you for it too,
Kansas State got to this Sweet 16 on the back of some stellar defensive play, which included holding Creighton to 59-points and UMBC to just 43. These Wildcats are not getting the same love from this market as their namesakes from The Blue Grass State, but that is to be expected, as they are not a blue blood program like UK. K-State lives in the shadow of the Kansas Jayhawks, but keeping a low profile suits us well here to keep K-State undervalued. Kansas State features two juniors, two sophomores and a redshirt freshman in its starting lineup and that group finished fourth in the pound-for-pound best conference in college hoops. It might be hard to back Kansas State today after watching it struggle with #16 UMBC. Many in the market were on the upset-minded Retrievers that night and did cash their tickets, as UMBC covered the spread. Also, failing to score 50 points against a team like the Retrievers isn't likely to help inspire confidence that these Wildcats of K-State can hang with those from Kentucky but they can. K-State’s game against that Cinderella team from Baltimore drew a big audience and you don’t need us to inform you that K-State was shaky as hell from the onset. They didn’t even score a point until the game was almost five minutes old. We cannot overstate how influential that weak showing is to a market that overreacts to what they last saw. Even if leading scorer Wade is not back to 100%, K-State's suffocating defense could be enough to keep this one close. If Wade returns to anywhere near his best, the Wildcats’ chances increase dramatically but no matter what, Kentucky has to prepare for him.
Let’s not forget how many easy buckets the Bulls made on Kentucky. The books are not giving away free money here and while we absolutely respect UK, we are not buying the “peaking at the right time narrative that is being attached to Kentucky or the “finally figuring it out” narrative either. UK was 6-7 in the SEC at one point and although they are 2-0 in this event, we have all seen their vulnerabilities that can be exploited by a well-prepped, well-coached quality squad. K-State is all of the above.
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports and take advantage of their -104 style pricing on sides and totals, which is 60% better than other sportsbooks.
Kansas State +5 -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)