Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM
When the NCAA Tournament brackets were announced late last Sunday afternoon, it was very clear that something special was brewing in the Midwest regional. #1 Wichita State was grouped in what projected to be a Sweet 16 “Group of Death” with defending national champion Louisville, defending runner-up Michigan, and perennial power Duke. And, oh…by the way…they might have to beat perennial power Kentucky just to get to the Sweet 16 slasher movie!
The previews for those special attractions begin Friday Night. Wichita State is a heavy favorite to dispatch with #16 seed Cal Poly. That will be followed by the #8-9 game matching Kentucky and Kansas State. Can Kentucky survive Friday Night for their shot at Wichita State…and possibly even bigger headlines down the road? Let’s run the most anticipated matchup of Friday Night through our indicator gauntlet.
Kentucky: #17 in Pomeroy, #18 in Sagarin
Kansas State: #44 in Pomeroy, #33 in Sagarin
College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin both have Kentucky just on the outside of Sweet 16 caliber. But, those are VERY high ratings for a #8 seed! The computer guys see Kentucky as a #5 seed, which means Wichita’s pathway is even tougher than it seemed at first. Kansas State is more highly thought of by Sagarin, who may have been giving more weight to Big 12 games in his strength of schedule element. Worth noting in this #8-9 game that Pomeroy is saying it’s really more like a #5-12 game.
Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Kansas State: #113
Kentucky has offensive talent. It’s not always cohesive, which has bogged them down in their worst outings. It’s great to have a variety of weapons who can score in a big game. It’s NOT great if they don’t pass the ball to each other and try to do things one-on-one. The Kansas State offense struggled this year vs. quality, and doesn’t have a Dance-caliber unit on this side of the floor.
Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Kansas State: #24
We have a virtual dead heat defensively. That’s a tribute to both. But, Kentucky has a history of ranking better than this with head coach John Calipari’s best teams. The Wildcats are talented enough to play spoiler in this regional…but this isn’t really a vintage Calipari team.
Kansas State: #229
Because Kentucky’s stars like playing one-on-one, this is a slower than average team even with all of their athleticism. The game won’t be stuck in the mud like some Dance matchups between plodders. But, this will mostly be a halfcourt battle…particularly if the game is close in the second half.
Against the Spread
Kansas State: 16-13-1
Kentucky could only manage a .500 mark, which they had to rally for with a big weekend in Atlanta in the SEC tournament. Kansas State grinded out a small profit for their backers.
Vegas Line: Kentucky by 6, total of 132.5
Oddsmakers opened the game at Kentucky by 5. Sharps took a position at that number knowing the public would come in on the bigger name team. As we write this, there’s been no buy back on the underdog. There might not be, given Kentucky’s good form last weekend.
If you’ve been loving the first two days of MARCH MADNESS, then you want to end Friday Night on a big note. Be sure you check out late session BEST BETS from JIM HURLEYS NETWORK! Our scouts…sources…statheads…computer programmers…trend historians…and Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore are leaving no stone unturned to make sure clients are on the very best options. You can purchase those right here at the website with your credit card. If you’d like to talk to a live person, call our handicapping office during normal business hours Friday at 1-888-777-4155. It’s best to call in the morning so you get the best of both sessions.
Back with you Saturday to discuss the best of the late day “Round of 32” matchups. We’ll do the same thing for you Sunday…which means we could well be covering Kentucky/Wichita State if the favorites advance. Additional Dance coverage is available on the blog at Vegas-Sports-Masters with sharp reports and computer assessments on every game.
Don’t sweat the “Group of Death.” JIM HURLEY has been KILLING THE MARKET for years! Big juicy winners are ready for you right now at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!