Kansas State begins their NCAA Tournament journey as the No. 3 seed in the East Region against Big Sky champions Montana State.
Under first year head coach Jerome Tang, the Wildcats exceeded expectations in 2023 and will look to use their vaunted defense to make a tourney run. However, the Bobcats enter with a stout defense that can generate turnovers and an offense that gets to the free throw line at an astounding rate.
Can the Wildcats avoided a dreaded upset? Here’s our best bet for Friday’s Round of 64 matchup:
Montana State vs. Kansas State odds, spread and total
Montana State vs. Kansas State prediction and pick
Kansas State wants to play fast, 40th in adjusted tempo according to KenPom and they get to the free throw rate at a top 50 clip. While the pace should be fast, I do expect a ton of whistles in this one and what could be a choppy affair. Montana State also likes to play physical, getting to the charity stripe at a top five rate and both teams are bottom 80 nationally in opponent free throw rate allowed.
Both teams shoot free throws at an elite percentage, each north of 75%, and will look to impose their will physically on the inside against two handsy defenses.
While Montana State isn’t that great at shooting it from beyond the perimeter, they take three’s at a bottom 60 rate, preferring to pound the ball inside. That can work against the Wildcats defense that is outside the top 100 in defense at the rim this season, per Haslametrics.
Meanwhile, the Kansas State defense should also be able to get inside with the two man game between Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson to open up the perimeter, the Bobcats allow a majority of their points on the inside, 286th in average shot proximity.
Overall, with both teams able to score around the rim and get to the free throw line, I’ll go over in what should be a competitive matchup.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.