NCAA Tournament Second-Round Preview: Kentucky vs. Kansas State

The Kentucky Wildcats are through to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They outlasted the Providence Friars on Friday night, earning their first March Madness victory since 2019. Up next, they meet a familiar foe, the Kansas State Wildcats. The winner will punch a one-way ticket to the Sweet 16. 

#3 Kansas State vs. #6 Kentucky Odds on FanDuel

  • Spread: Kentucky-2.5 (-115) | Kansas State +2.5 (-105)
  • Moneyline: Kentucky -150 | Kansas State +125
  • Total: OVER 144.5 (-105) | UNDER 144.5 (-115)

This is not the first time KU and K-State have met in the Big Dance. This week’s matchup will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two teams in the NCAA Tournament. The pair first met in the 1951 NCAA title game, won by Kentucky. Then in 2014, UK thrashed K-State in the first round on their way to the National Championship. In 2018, K-State defeated Kentucky 61-58 in the Sweet 16 before they lost in the Elite Eight to Loyola Chicago. If K-State wins this Sunday, the all-time series between the two teams will be tied up at 2-2. 

Kentucky’s first-round matchup with the Friars was a battle from start to finish. The Wildcats struggled to put points on the board, going nearly five minutes without a point in the second half. The squad’s most dominant player, Oscar Tshiebwe, racked up a record-breaking 25 rebounds but only managed to put eight points on the board. As the competition gets stiffer, the Wildcats won’t be able to get away with a mid-game slump. A team like Kansas State will take advantage if the door is open. 

Heading into the second round, K-State is fresh off a 77-65 victory over Montana State in the Round of 64. While it was a close contest, the Wildcats took the lead midway through the first half and never looked back. Defensively, Kentucky’s biggest challenge will be the duo of Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson. Against Montana State, Nowell racked up a dominant 17 points, six rebounds, and 14 assists, while Johnson tallied an impressive 18 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Slowing down this duo is the key to a KU victory.