The Kansas State Wildcats and the Syracuse Orange meet in a Saturday morning showdown. What have the odds makers left on the table for us, and which sides of the lines do we want to be on when it comes time to place our picks.
The Syracuse Orange and Kansas State Wildcats survived the East bracket’s second round, posting single-digit victories as part of Thursday’s “Big Dance” action. Saturday’s third round has the pair of foes squaring off in an early tip at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center, with the winner advancing to the tourney’s “Sweet Sixteen” in Boston.
Sportsbooks opened Syracuse as a five-point favorite, making it the team’s 33rd straight ‘board’ game as the NCAA Basketball betting ‘chalk.’ Kansas State enters the battle with a 6-4 spread record in its 10 spots as a single-digit dog, logging an 82-74 defeat in this month’s Big 12 Conference Tournament as the span’s most recent result.
Syracuse notched a 72-65 victory as a 15.5 point favorite against the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs, rallying from a 34-30 halftime deficit as the East bracket’s top seed. The Orange shot 44.6 percent from the field, while my followers from Thursday’s card cashed an easy ticket with the Bulldogs trailing by no more than eight points throughout the contest.
Syracuse’s Kris Joseph and James Southerland united for 27 points, while logging eight boards each. The duo’s mate C.J. Fair was held to a 1-for-7 shooting day, finishing with three points in 15 minutes on the floor.
The contest’s combined 137 points dipped below the ‘total’ of 147.5, making the ‘under’ 4-2 in Syracuse’s last six games. Orange guard Scoop Jardine recorded seven of his squad’s 16 assists, while he and his mates sank 17-of-24 free throws.
Wildcats guard Rodney McGruder piled in a team-high 30 points, knocking down 11-of-16 shots from the field. The junior added all four of Kansas State’s steals, while mate Jordan Henriquez nearly logged a double-double with 15 points and nine boards.
The tight affair’s combined 134 points ‘pushed’ the closing ‘total,’ bringing the ‘over’ to 4-1-1 in the Wildcats’ last six contests. Kansas State held the Golden Eagles to 36.7 percent field shooting, while Henriquez added six of his team’s seven blocks.
Back K-State to get the money
Saturday’s tip is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. (ET), with CBS providing the national television coverage.
I am adding Kansas State to my sports picks for Saturday’s “March Madness” card, taking the points with Frank Martin’s squad in this spot. The Wildcats will look to peel apart the Orange lineup down the stretch, taking Syracuse to the final buzzer in another tight battle for both squads.
Syracuse’s Fab Melo (5.8 RPG) was a late scratch for Thursday’s opener due to issues with eligibility, with the big man’s lack of presence causing a close call for the Orange. Melo’s mates barely edged out lowly Asheville in rebounds, 33-31, while needing 31 points from their bench to survive.
Kansas State has cashed with a 5-2 spread mark in its last seven games, including road upsets against No. 3 Missouri and No. 11 Baylor as part of that stretch. McGruder will look for another sizable outing here after bringing his “A-game” for Thursday’s opener, living up to being one of the Big 12’s top 10 scorers (15.4 PPG) throughout the season.
Syracuse remains overvalued by the oddsmakers as the East’s top seed, with Thursday’s uncashed ticket bringing Jim Boeheim’s crew to spread records of 1-7 in its last eight games and 0-4 in its last four neutral-site affairs. Look for the Orange to fall short again at the betting windows here with Kansas State going 4-1 ATS in its last five non-conference contests, while holding its last 11 foes to 63.3 PPG.