Kentucky vs. Kansas State Predictions, Odds & Picks: Is Right Team Favored in March Madness Round of 32?
One of college basketball's most iconic programs gets a standalone March Madness game for viewing purposes in the East Region, as the Kentucky Wildcats face the Kansas State Wildcats. Read on for our Kentucky vs. Kansas State predictions based on the top NCAAB odds.
Kentucky (22-11, 12-6 SEC) had a disappointing season if it is judging itself by championships, as it failed to win either the SEC regular season championship or conference tournament title for the fourth time in five seasons. However, John Calipari's club won five of its final six games to end the regular season, four of which were against tournament teams (Mississippi State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Arkansas).
Kansas State (24-9, 11-7 Big 12) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 77-65 opening-round win over Montana State. The Wildcats are led by Jerome Tang, one of eight head coaches in the NCAA Tournament in their first season with their current team.
Here is our best Kentucky vs. Kansas State prediction (odds via Caesars Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Kentucky vs. Kansas State odds
Kentucky vs. Kansas State prediction
Kansas State ML (+130 via PointsBet) ⭐⭐⭐
It's funny to think a Kansas State win would be considered an upset, as it is the No. 3 seed playing a No. 6 seed. However, KenPom's projection has this as a 74-73 Kansas State victory, and we're in line with that, specifically because we trust Kansas State's depth and guard play much more.
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With Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler missing his 10th consecutive game against Providence and shooting guard CJ Fredrick being limited to just seven minutes, the Wildcats' five starters all played at least 33 minutes against the Friars. A limited bench could spell doom against a Kansas State team that played at the Big 12's fastest tempo this season and a top-40 tempo in the country. Thus, Kentucky will not be able to settle into the game and methodically plug away in a game with 58 possessions as it did against Providence's base flex offense.
The way to beat Kentucky defensively is to spread it out and pull center Oscar Tshiebwe away from the rim. Kansas State center Nae'Qwan Tomlin ranked 11th in the Big 12 in 2-point shooting percentage but also has made multiple 3-pointers in two of the last four games, so look for Tang to utilize him in a lot of high ball screen and pick-and-pop action. That will open the floor for Kansas State's Third Team All-American duo of Markquis Nowell (he has scored in double figures in 15 straight games) and Keyontae Johnson, who has scored in double figures in 31 of 32 this season.
Kansas State went 8-2 against the spread against ranked opponents this season, so the team has had plenty of success against elite competition. Meanwhile, Kentucky is just 12-14 ATS as a favorite this year and has covered just five of its 14 non-conference games.
Check out our best March Madness odds and Wooden Award odds.
Kentucky vs. Kansas State best odds
The best point spread available for Kansas State backers is +2, with +1.5 being the more common number. If we can get the Wildcats at +2.5 or higher, that might tempt us from passing on the moneyline.
Kentucky vs. Kansas State odds analysis
This line opened at a consensus of -1.5 in favor of Kentucky but that has grown to -3 as of Sunday morning even with a modest 56% of the betting action backing the favorite.
The consensus opening total of 145.5 has yet to budge anywhere except at BetRivers, which moved to 146. However, the early betting splits suggest that number could come down, as the wagers are more than 3/1 in favor of the Under.
Kentucky vs. Kansas State game info
- Date: Sunday, March 19, 2:40 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Kentucky-Kansas State pick made 3/18/2023 at 6:49 a.m. ET.
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