It's the Wildcats, Guaranteed! Kentucky is Smart Pick vs. K-State

kentucky hoops

Doug Upstone

Monday, March 19, 2018 9:10 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 19, 2018 9:10 PM UTC

No. 5 Kentucky, now the South Region favorite, meets No. 9 Kansas State in a Sweet 16 game Thursday night. Which Wildcats team is the one to lean on with your NCAAB picks?

South Region: No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Kansas StateSouth Region, Thursday, 9:37 p.m. ET, AtlantaFree NCAAB Pick: Kentucky -6.5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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Kentucky dispatched a good Buffalo club in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, putting them away late because of their size and skill.

Meanwhile, Kansas State played a brutal offensive game against Maryland-Baltimore County on Sunday and deserved not to cover in spite what most thought would be an easy Wildcats cover.

The college basketball odd board has Kentucky at -6.5 (up from -5), with a total of 138.5, for Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup of Wildcats. Can Kansas State pull off another outright upset in the South Region?

Patience Pays Off for Kentucky

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In today's world of instant information needed and demanded, this Kentucky club frustrated Big Blue nation and its coaches at some points during the season. As we have heard countless times, this is coach John Calipari's young Wildcats team. Calipari has flaws, but he figures out what his teams do best and adjusts accordingly.

As this Wildcats club learned to play together, the smartest thing Coach Cal did is give the keys to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 6-foot-6 freshman guard has a complete understanding of his position and he's making his teammates better. That is why Kentucky (26-10, 18-17-1 ATS) is on a 9-1 SU and ATS roll. Each player has a role and is playing to their strengths.

This is not to say the 'Cats cannot be knocked off, but Kansas State will need its A-game to do so.

Kansas State Must be Dialed in for 40 Minutes

By now, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber has told his squad that if they play like they did against UMBC, they'll lose by 20 to Kentucky. It's as simple as that. K-State (24-11, 15-17 ATS) had 18 turnovers and at least two-thirds were careless. They did a disservice to the term "shot selection" because for the most part there was not any.

The Wildcats are capable of taking good shots; they have made 47.6 percent in 18 away contests. They are merely an ordinary three-point shooting team, but Kansas State can take advantage of other Kentucky weaknesses. The way to compete with Kentucky is by making two-point shots, though not necessarily in the lane; Davidson and Buffalo each shot more than 50 percent in this range vs. Kentucky.

Kansas State has the ability to play tremendous man-to-man defense. If they do this and do not allow Kentucky too many offensive rebounds, they can put the pressure on the favorites.

Wildcats Conflict, Part 2

Kentucky has already taken care of one Wildcats team (Davidson) and now goes after another. Kansas State will present defensive challenges, even for a Kentucky crew that has shot 50 percent or better in four straight games and in six of its past eight.

However, with my college basketball picks, I'm picking the Wildcats from Kentucky because Kansas State will have dull periods on offense. K-State could play Big Blue even for 34 minutes, but a pair of brief lapses -- where they are outscored 6-0 twice -- could decide their fate. Kentucky wins and covers.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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