Five teams called the Wildcats began this NCAA tournament, and three remain. Two just happen to bump into each other Thursday when Kansas State battles Kentucky in a Sweet 16 matchup in Atlanta. Which Wildcats are the smart betting choice in this contest?
March Madness point spread: Kentucky opened as a five-point favorite; the total is at 140.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).
March Madness betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 73.6-66.4, Kentucky (March Madness picks on every game).
Why Kansas State can cover the spread
These Wildcats reached their first Sweet 16 since 2010 by beating Creighton in the first round 69-59 and UM-Baltimore County in the second round 50-43. Kansas State did it mostly with defense, holding the Bluejays to just 34 percent field-goal shooting, then limiting the upstart Retrievers to just 30 percent shooting. So these Wildcats have now held nine of their last 10 opponents under 50 percent from the floor.
Kansas State trailed UMBC early 10-2, but by halftime led 25-20. They later finished the game with a 12-6 run to secure the victory. The Wildcats are now 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS over their last five games, the only loss during that span coming against Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.
Why Kentucky can cover the spread
These Wildcats, starting five freshmen, reached the Sweet 16 by dispatching Davidson in the first round 78-73, then beating upstart Buffalo 95-75 in the second round. Kentucky shot 51 percent from the floor against those other Wildcats, then shot 56 percent against the Bulls.
UK led Buffalo by 13 early in the second half, let the Bulls get within a couple of buckets a couple of times but pulled away in the end for the cover of a six-point spread.
These Wildcats have now shot at least 50 percent from the floor in six of their last eight games. Also, after holding what was a hot-shooting Buffalo outfit to just 39 percent shooting, Kentucky has held each of its last 20 opponents under 50 percent shooting.
Finally, these young Wildcats are now 9-1 both SU and ATS over their last 10 games, and 12-7 ATS this season when favored by less than 10 points.
Smart betting pick
Kentucky is playing its best ball of the season, and Big Blue nation will be out in force in Atlanta. Smart money here bets UK.
March Madness betting trends
The total has gone over in nine of Kentucky's last 10 games.
Kentucky is 6-0 SU and ATS in its last six games as a favorite of six points or fewer.
Kansas State is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games in March.
All college basketball odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.