#2 Kansas St Wildcats
Vegas Odds: Kansas St -4.5
Why Watch? While this game doesn't quite have the Cinderella buzz of a Kentucky/Cornell, or the name buzz of a Duke or Syracuse.. you might be looking at the best actual basketball game of the Sweet Sixteen.
How Kansas St Got Here: Kansas St 84 - BYU 72
How Xavier Got Here: Xavier 71 - Pittsburgh 68
Why Xavier will win:
Xavier has beaten 12 Top 100 teams along the way to an impressive 26-8 record. They are not a slow-it down team, nor an up-tempo team, nor a defensive or offensive focused team. They are simply a good overall basketball team that has an ace in the hole in 20 ppg scorer Jordan Crawford.
Musketeer to Watch:
Terrell Holloway, G - 12 ppg, 2 rpg, 4 apg
Holloway & Crawford will have to go toe to toe with K-State's dynamic backcourt of Pullen & Clemente. Holloway has the speed to run with those guys, but he'll also need to find his offensive groove. He can run hot-and-cold, and unfortunately in their last match against K-State back in December, Holloway got outplayed on both ends of the floor.
Why Kansas St will win:
K-State crushed Xavier in the first meeting, so that's obviously a huge edge. In that game, K-State forced more turnovers, had a large rebounding edge, and forced Xavier into a particularly bad shooting night. That was no aberration, K-State is 14th in the country in offense and defense according to Ken Pomeroy, and a particularly good offensive rebounding team.
Wildcat to Watch:
Jamar Samuels, F - 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
Samuels had a good game against Xavier earlier, and has been a key contributor in most of the Wildcats big wins. But in the tournament, he's been a bit of a disaster. In round one, he had 4 fouls in 7 minutes, and in round 2 he was 0 of 6 from the floor. They'll need something more along the lines of the 11 and 8 he put up the first time around.
How it will go down:
K-State is a whole other animal compared to Minnesota & Pittsburgh, the two teams Xavier has beaten so far. Those workmanlike teams both have slow tempos and prefer to grind out games, which fits Xavier's style. K-State is much more dynamic and athletic and simply another class above. While this game will be much closer then when the two met in December, the Wildcats still pull out the W.
Betting Pick: Kansas St (this seems like a fair line that I wouldn't go overboard with)
Real Pick: Kansas St