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NY Post
New York Post
17 Feb 2024


NextImg:TCU vs. Kansas State prediction: College basketball odds, pick

The Kansas State Wildcats need a win on Saturday. 

After starting the year 14-4, they’ve lost four of their past five games, sinking deeper and deeper into the bubble. 

Jerome Tang and Co. are officially fighting for their at-large lives, and a loss here would drive a dagger into them. 

So, I’m betting on the Wildcats’ best effort and Tang’s best game plan against a TCU team ripe for a letdown following an easy home win over lowly West Virginia. 

TeamSpreadMoneylineTotal
TCU+1.5 (-110)+102o143.5 (-110)
Kansas State-1.5 (-110)-120u143.5 (-110)

(Via FanDuel)

(12 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Kansas State has two critical advantages over TCU on Saturday. 

First, the Wildcats are playing like a top-15 defense, leading all Big 12 teams in defensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage allowed (45%) during conference play.

They’ve been particularly effective defending the rim and preventing transition buckets. 

That’s crucial against TCU’s up-tempo rim-running offense.

The Horned Frogs lead the nation in fast-break points per game (20) and rank in the 95th percentile of D-I teams in paint points per game (38). 

But they’re running that quick-strike attack against a Kansas State team that ranks above the 70th percentile in transition PPP allowed (.98) and at-the-rim PPP allowed (1.04). 

Kansas State Wildcats forward Will McNair Jr. (13) in the second half of a Big 12 basketball game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats.
Kansas State Wildcats forward Will McNair Jr. (13) in the second half of a Big 12 basketball game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas State Wildcats. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Behind rim-protecting big men Will McNair (6.6% block rate) and David N’Guessan (3.2% block rate), the Wildcats can stand tall and prevent easy baskets against the nation’s most easy-basket-reliant offense. 

Second, the Wildcats have a monster rest advantage against TCU.

Kansas State hasn’t played since last Saturday’s loss to BYU, while TCU won on Monday.

The extra two days of rest and prep will be paramount for a mastermind schemer like Tang and a relatively depthless roster (325th in bench minutes). 

Additionally, the Octagon of Doom provides a unique home-court advantage.

Since Tang took over in Manhattan last year, the Wildcats are 16-7 ATS at home, covering 70% of the time by a three-point average margin. 

This year, Kansas State boasts a +11 Net Rating at home compared to a -3 on the road. The home crowd gets this team going. 

I worry about Kansas State’s offense in this matchup.

The Wildcats are a 3-point-heavy offense that struggles with ball-handling issues, and the Horned Frogs force turnovers and protect the 3-point line better than almost any college basketball defense.

But TCU is a tad vulnerable against off-ball screeners (.93 PPP allowed, 11th percentile), and Kansas State heavily utilizes those sets with relatively solid efficiency (.98 PPP allowed, 67th percentile), trying to pop open the talented Tylor Perry-Cam Carter-Arthura Kaluma wing trio. 

If Kansas State’s wings can get going on secondary actions, the Wildcats’ defense should carry them to a home-court victory in a must-win desperation scenario. 

I’m betting that happens. 

Kansas State ML