2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats vs No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats finished the 2013 – 14 college basketball season in a disappointing fashion that saw their late comeback bid against the Florida Gators in the 2014 SEC Tournament fall short, but that surge of energy will boost them moving forward into the 2014 NCAA Tournament. As the No. 8 seed in the Midwest, the Wildcats will face the No. 9 seeded Kansas State Wildcats in the opening round on March 21st in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kansas State started off the season extremely well, coming into Big 12 play with a 10 – 3 record. They beat a lot of good conference teams, but, like any team playing in the best conference in college basketball, they ended up falling short again and again. Six of their total 12 losses came by seven points or less, so they will go into the game with Kentucky believing they can win.
What to Watch For
Kansas State has struggled rebounding the ball all season long, and rebounding is what Kentucky specializes in. The leading rebounder for KSU, Thomas Gipson, is only 6’7 and, despite his 265 pound frame, is going to struggle to keep Julius Randle off the boards. Marcus Foster will be aware his team is going to have to score 70+ points if they are going to win, so expect him to shoot often.
Kentucky is just an all-around more talented team than Kansas State. Bruce Weber has done a fantastic job building this team after taking over from Frank Martin, but KSU just can’t find consistency. Remember, Kansas State only won three games all season on the road; two of these wins came against TCU and Texas Tech, who are the worst teams in the Big 12. I expect Kentucky to run away with this one late, as Kansas State won’t be able to hang with the likes of Randle, Willie Cauley-Stein, James Young and the Harrison Twins.
Kentucky 75, Kansas State 64