NCAA Tournament Basketball, Second Round BYU Cougars (30-5, 19-13 ATS) vs. Kansas State Wildcats (27-7, 19-9 ATS), Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Saturday, March 20th, 8:10 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Wildcats -4 1/2/Cougars +4 1/2
Over/Under: 154 1/2
A mid-major gets a shot at a big leaguer Saturday night when the BYU Cougars claw around with the Kansas State Wildcats in an NCAA tournament second-round 2- vs. 7-seed game in the OKC.
Most books opened this game with K State favored by 3 or four points, but early action has bumped the Wildcats to -4 at most places.
The ‘Cats are also giving right around -200 on most moneylines, with BYU getting about +170 to win outright.
The Cougars got their first NCAA tournament win since 1993 Thursday afternoon when they outlasted the Florida Gators 99-92 in double-overtime. G Jimmer Fredette tossed in 37 points, including a game-clinching 3-pointer from way downtown, to keep BYU from falling after blowing a 13-point lead with 10 minutes to go.
The Cougs also got outrebounded by the Gators 38-29.
In winning Thursday BYU also covered the pointspread as five-point favorites. And that game went over its posted total 147 before it got to overtime.
BYU went 133 in the Mountain West this season to finish second to New Mexico before losing to UNLV in the semifinals of the conference tournament. So the Cougars got a seven seed in this tournament as an at-large bid out of the MWC.
K-State dispatched of 15-seed North Texas Thursday 82-62, and covered the line as 16-point chalk. The ‘Cats shot 51% from the floor, and held the Green to 31% FG shooting. And that game stayed under its posted total of 147 by a couple of hoops.
Kansas State went 11-5 to tie for second place in the Big 12 this season, then won a couple of games in the conference tournament last week before losing to top-ranked Kansas 72-64 in the championship game. So the Wildcats garnered a two seed as an at-large out of the B-12.
Kansas State is starting two seniors and three juniors, while Brigham Young starts a senior, two juniors, a soph and a frosh.
K State had gone 11 seasons between NCAA tournament appearances before making it to the second round in 2008. But they missed the Big Dance again last year.
The Cougs are playing in the NCAA tournament for the fourth season in a row. Last year they got beat by Texas A&M in the first round for the second straight season.
If this game comes down to free-throw shooting, BYU holds a distinct advantage. The Cougs lead D-1 ball by shooting 78% from the FT line this season, while the ‘Cats are shooting just 66% from the stripe.
BYU also ranks third in the country in 3-point accuracy at 42%. Thursday vs. Florida the Cougs shot 1023 from beyond the arc, getting big trifectas late from both Michael Lloyd and Jackson Emery.
Defensively, K State is holding opponents to 42% FG shooting, BYU 41%. And both teams are outrebounding foes by about four per game.
Kansas State and Brigham Young have played two common opponents this season. The Wildcats won at UNLV back in December 95-80, and they beat Nebraska twice in Big 12 play, by scores of 76-57 and 91-87. BYU, meanwhile, beat the Cornhuskers on a neutral court in Las Vegas in December 88-66, but went 1-2 vs. UNLV, winning by a score of 77-73 in January and losing by scores of 88-74 and, in the MWC tournament, 70-66.
These two teams together average 163 points per game, and allow 135 PPG. Combined, they are 31-26 on the totals this season.
These two programs haven’t met on the court since 2002.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate the Wildcats as about a one-point favorite over the Cougars for a neutral court match-up. But while K-State played the fifth-toughest schedule in college basketball, according to Sagarin, BYU played the 104th-ranked schedule.
Sagarin also ranks the Big 12 as the best conference in the country, with an average team rating of 84.5, while the Mountain West ranks eighth, with an average rating of 77.2.
Z-Man’s Pick: Kansas State is the best team in college hoops that nobody knows about. The Wildcats win by 10+ vs. a gritty but not good enough to win Saturday BYU team.