The Oklahoma State Cowboys barely slipped past the Baylor Bears in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. They now get a chance to face off against a veteran Kansas State squad.
NCAA Basketball odds makers had opened Kansas State as a 1 point favorite, but the early rush of sports picks has since pushed the line down to -2 at manny odds shops. The total has risen from its opening offering of 131 to the current listing of 133.
Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.
Oklahoma State can win because…
It will be coming off a strong performance against Kansas State just six days ago. Yes, on Saturday, March 9, Oklahoma State beat Kansas State on the final day of the Big 12 regular season. OSU shot 57 percent from the field and outscored Kansas State by nine points at the free throw line, 23 to 14. Coach Travis Ford's team finished with a 13-5 record in Big 12 competition this season, the best conference record for any Oklahoma State men's basketball team since the 2004 squad, which happened to make the Final Four that particular season.
Oklahoma State is better - and different - this season because it has three bona fide scoring options in crunch time, three players who force defenses to guard in one-on-one situations without being able to help, hedge, or double-team. Marcus Smart, a freshman, is a legitimate NBA prospect and a strong candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year. Le'Bryan Nash is an agile scorer who can put the ball in the basket from different spots on the floor. Markel Brown gives OSU a third weapon, giving the Cowboys so much versatility and balance in the final minutes of regulation.
Being able to hit 57 percent of field goal attempts against a Kansas State team that is known for its rugged defense will fill Oklahoma State with a great deal of confidence in this game. Yes, Oklahoma State looked shaky on Thursday night in slipping past Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals, but on many occasions, a close win can actually relax a team, loosening it up for future conquests and giving it the belief that it can pull through any difficult situation.
Kansas State can win because…
The Wildcats are aware that when they lost to Oklahoma State this past Saturday, they were playing on the Cowboys' home floor in Stillwater, Okla. This is a neutral-court game, but due to the fact that it is being staged in Kansas City, where the Wildcats beat Florida this past December in a high-profile neutral-court clash, KSU should feel very comfortable and, moreover, optimistic. Kansas State will be working with two small but real advantages in its pocket for this game. The Wildcats know that they played the first nighttime quarterfinal last night in the Big 12 Tournament. They were able to finish their game and then scout the Baylor-Oklahoma State game, getting a fresh look at the Cowboys. Moreover, Kansas State won that quarterfinal (over Texas) with so much ease that it was able to rest its frontline players far more than Oklahoma State was able to in a two-point win over Baylor that stretched deep into the night in Kansas City. This is a tougher turnaround for Oklahoma State, a situation the Cowboys will find it hard to negotiate on Friday evening. Oklahoma State is a talented team, but Kansas State brings more experience to the table and should be able to translate that savvy into a real advantage, especially in the final five minutes of regulation.
Outlook & College Basketball Betting Prediction:
This game is a matchup of OSU's youth versus KSU's experience. Youth, if more skilled, can beat experience, but Kansas State has enough talent to stay with OSU on a possession-by-possession basis. Expect the Wildcats, with a group of players who have played together for a long time, to cherish this opportunity to win a Big 12 Tournament championship. Pick the Wildcats in a close one.College Basketball Pick: Kansas State -1 at Bovada