Kansas State and Cincinnati meet up in the South Region in what many consider a “one and done” since UCLA likely awaits in round two – a team many have already considered the belle of the 2017 ball. Well, for Kansas State it is not a one and done at all since they've since they've already notched a First Four win Tuesday night against Wake 95-88.
Cincinnati didn't earn much love from the selection committee earning a #6 seed despite a 29-5 regular season record. The Bearcats lost two games down the stretch to a tough SMU squad but otherwise went 20-1 since December 10th. Cincinnati has put that run together based on defence as their 60.8 PPG allowed rank 4th in the country as opponents are shooting only 38.5% against them (8th).
K-State had a bit more of a rough stretch to close out the year going just 5-5 in their last 10. They only score 72 PPG which is 197th in the country. They aren't especially good on D either as opponents are shooting 42.6% against the Wildcats. Overall, Kansas State was 21-13 on the year.
On paper, everything is saying the Bearcats in a route. For one, they are much more rested compared to Kansas State who had to play Tuesday at the First Four in Dayton before flying out to Sacramento for the South Regional. Cincinnati has good defensive numbers against a poor offensive team but might not score enough themselves. The total of 131 is the second lowest for the Friday NCAA games but it still might go under.
That being said the side has to be the pick in this game. What's hard to understand is why Cincinnati opened at only -3.5 favourites and have actually been bet down to -3. The Bearcats were a hotter team all year but were stressful on bettors with only a 16-14 ATS record.
Gambling instincts say this is a trap game that should be stayed away from. Then again a lot of the action on Kansas State could be based on the easy 11/6 or 12/5 upset picks that people love so much. That's more of an indictment of Cincinnati's poor seeding, however. Anytime you can get a better team playing with more rest who only has to cover by 2 baskets – you take it. Cincinnati is the pick.