Kentucky vs Kansas State March Madness Betting Preview: Tshiebwe, Kentucky Slight Favorites

Can Kansas State Slow Down Kentucky's Rebounding Phenom Tshiebwe?

It Will Be Wildcats vs Wildcats In a Second Round Showdown in the East Region

Kentucky might be the lower seed, but after shaking off a challenge from Providence in the first round, the Wildcats from Kentucky are favored against the Wildcats from Kansas State according to the Kentucky vs Kansas State March Madness betting preview.

Kentucky moved on despite not making a field goal over the last 2:36. Kansas State had no such problems, putting up 43 points in the second half against Montana State for the program’s first March Madness win in five years.

When it comes to the college basketball news, Kentucky continues to play without point guard Sahvir Wheeler. He hasn’t played since an early February win over Florida because of an ankle injury.

Kansas State is in good shape from an injury perspective. The top three scorers and four of the top six point producers have played in every game this season.

Kansas State fell three spots to No. 15 in the Associated Press poll and went from 12th to 13th in the coaches’ poll. Kentucky dropped out of the top 25 in both national polls after an early exit from the SEC tournament. The Wildcats are among other teams receiving votes in both polls.

According to the odds to win March Madness, Kentucky (+2200) is 12th in the odds to win the national championship. Kansas State (+5000) is tied for 17th.

UK Kentucky: Getting An ‘A’ For Effort

Since Oscar Tshiebwe arrived in Lexington after playing at West Virginia for two seasons, he had been pulling down rebounds at a fast and furious pace.

He took it to a new level in the first-round win over Providence as he had 25 rebounds in the 61-53 win.

It was just the eighth 20-rebound game in his two seasons at Kentucky, but the first in a postseason game. It was also a Kentucky record for an NCAA tournament game. He is one of the major reasons why the Kentucky vs Kansas State March Madness betting preview favors Kentucky.

The 25 rebounds fell four shy of the single-game record for a subregional. UConn’s Toby Kimball had 29 in a 1965 game while former NBA stars Elvin Hayes and Paul Silas had 27-rebound games as well. Eleven of those rebounds came on the offensive end and that was huge in a game when both teams shot 36% from the field.

Kentucky is 6-2 against the college basketball betting lines in its last eight games. The Wildcats have covered in four of the last five meetings with Big 12 teams.

KSU Kansas State: Capitalizing on Second Chance

While there isn’t too much history between the programs, there is one member of the Kansas State team that the Kentucky coaching staff is very aware of.

Keyontae Johnson played at Florida before coming to Kansas State. He started 51 of 67 games in his first two seasons. He had 41 points and 27 rebounds in four matchups with Kentucky.

Health issues limited Johnson to five games over the next two seasons.

Johnson collapsed during a 2020 game against Florida State and spent three days in a coma. It was thought to be the end of his career.

He was cleared by the Kansas State medical staff and became the program’s first All-American in more than a decade.

Johnson had 18 points and eight rebounds in 38 minutes in the win over Montana State.

In his only matchup this season against an SEC team, he had 16 points and four rebounds and his jumper with five seconds left, lifted Kansas State to the two-point win back in November. Even with his bounce-back season, the Kentucky vs Kansas State March Madness betting preview is not in Kansas State’s favor.

Kansas State has covered against the college basketball odds in five of its last seven games.

Handicapping the Game

Kentucky has won seven of the eight matchups with Kansas State. The last two meetings happened during the NCAA tournament with Kansas State winning 61-58 as a five-point underdog according to the March Madness lines in the 2018 South Regional semifinal and Kentucky winning 56-49 as a six-point favorite in the first round in 2014. Each of those games finished under the total.

The lower-seeded team comes into the game as the favorite with Kentucky currently a 1½-point favorite according to the college basketball scores and odds.

The big question is how Kansas State will hold up in the rebounding department. Kentucky features Oscar Tshiebwe, the top rebounder in the country and as a team ranks in the top 15 in rebounds and offensive rebounds per game. Kansas State is among the worst rebounding teams remaining in the tournament.

Kansas State is 20th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency while Kentucky is 16th in offensive efficiency according to the Pomeroy college basketball rating database. The game could be decided on the other matchup with Kansas State 49th in offensive efficiency and Kentucky 61st in defensive efficiency.

Kansas State is 22-11 against the spread and among teams to reach the second round in the March Madness bracket, only Pittsburgh has a better track record. Kentucky is just 16-17 ATS.

Kentucky is 18-9 when listed by the sportsbook as the favorite. Kansas State is 5-9 as the underdog. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)

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