Based on the Thursday’s outcomes, it seems like the major conferences are going to do extremely well. Depending on how you look at it, six games could have caused carnage to the NCAA Tournament. However, a tipped pass, an airball three, a few championship runs, and a lowly performance by the Ivy League player of the year, kept the big boys from looking foolish on day one of the NCAA Tournament. Meaning, that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the power conferences with higher seeds on Friday.
One of those matchups are the 4 Kansas State Wildcats vs. 13 UC-Irvine Anteaters in the South region. The Wildcats will be without forward Dean Wade. Luckily, they are used to playing without Wade in the biggest moments. Last season, they made a run into the Elite 8 with Wade barely playing. Therefore, they should be able to adapt just fine.
13 UC-Irvine Anteaters (30-5) vs. 4 Kansas State Wildcats (25-8)
When: Friday March 22, 2 p.m. EDT
Where: San Jose, CA – SAP Center
Betting Line: Kansas State -4.5 – o/u 118.5
However, the Anteaters aren’t here for a consolation prize. They won 30 games this season and they plan on advancing in the tournament. The line opened with Kansas State as a six point favorite. The over is so low because both teams have played incredible defense this season.
The Wildcats have the No. 3 scoring defense at 59.2 points per game. The Anteaters are giving up 63.3 points per game. They come into the NCAA Tournament with the No. 19 scoring defense. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect and up and down affair on Friday afternoon.
The Anteaters are (20-13) against the spread. They are (17-17) vs. the over. More importantly, they are (3-1) as a underdog away from home. However, they are only (2-2) against teams that give up fewer than 67 points per game. Meaning, the Wildcats fit right into the wheelhouse that gives the Anteaters problems. They do score 72.9 points, however. So, the slight underdog team from the Big West wouldn’t mind getting their tempo with a little more pace.
Max Hazzard (12.5) and Evan Leonard (11.1) are the only double digit scorers. They can’t afford to let the game come to them. If they are not hitting shots early, the duo must get the teammates involved. If you are really trying to earn the upset. They have multiple front court players that have to be a factor. Collin Welp, Jonathan Galloway and Tommy Rutherford combine for about 23 points and 17 rebounds. They all shoot over 51 percent from the field. Galloway leads the team at 62 percent. If they are able to dominate the paint, they can win.
Kansas State Breakdown-
The Wildcats are (19-14) against the spread. They are only (13-20) vs. the over. Their defense is really elite and it can be a shock to the system. However, the Wildcats only score around 66 points per game.
They have four double digit scorers on the team. Unfortunately, Wade is no longer part of the rotation. Therefore, the trio of Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Xavier Sneed have to bring their A-game to the round of 64. Brown leads the way with 14.9 points per game. Stokes and Sneed both average slightly more than 10 points per game. Will the Wildcats get enough scoring? Yes, if they play enough defense.
The Wildcats shoot around 33.5 percent from 3-point range. Foul shooting could come back to haunt them. They only hit 66.4 percent of their free throws.
Pick- UC-Irvine 62 – Kansas State 59