The Kansas State Wildcats against the Kentucky Wildcats is the classic 8 vs. 9 matchup. This can be one of the most challenging games to pick, along with the 7-10 game, as there always seems to be at least two 10 seeds that make it to the round of 32. This game does bring a bit of intrigue though, as the Kentucky Wildcats started the season as the number 1 ranked team in the country, although they are unranked now.
#9-Kansas State Wildcats vs. #8- Kentucky Wildcats Free Pick & Preview
Date/Time: March 21, 7:40 pm EST on CBS
College Basketball Betting Odds from WagerWeb
College Basketball Betting Favorite: Kentucky -5
While it is easy to say Kentucky started the season overrated, it is rather interesting that voters would have placed a team that lost in the first round of the NIT the previous year and had lost virtually all of its starters, would have been placed as the top team in the country, simply because of its recruiting class. As college basketball often reminds us, exceptional coaching is often the difference.
The Kansas State Wildcats have a 20-12 record (Kentucky has a 24-10 record), but they have a coach who took the Fighting Illinois to the Final Four earlier in his career. Granted, Kentucky won the entire National Championship with John Calipari as the head coach, but he is more of an exceptional recruiter than an exceptional Xs and Os coach. If it came down to simply coaching, Bruce Weber would win the game. However, the game isn’t played by the coaches, and you can be sure that Kentucky has by far the better talent on the team. It is more about if the team can come together. With so many highly rated recruits, it can often be difficult for the players to come together and share the spotlight.
Free Pick: Kentucky -5
The Kansas State Wildcats come from the Big 12 conference, which might arguably be the best basketball conference this year (although the Big Ten would probably argue with that fact). Kentucky certainly played in a weak SEC conference. Their weak schedule and inconsistent play will likely come back to haunt them later, but Kentucky should get by in this one on talent alone. Kansas State is outmatched here.
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