The 9th seeded Kansas State Wildcats will face off against the 5th seeded Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday night in the Sweet Sixteen for the South region. Both teams have moved on thanks to big wins last weekend. Kansas State defeated the 16th seeded University of Maryland Baltimore County 50-43 to earn their spot. UMBC was coming off the huge upset of # 1 seeded Virginia in the first round but The Wildcats defense stepped up in the win. Kansas State is hoping to have 6 foot 10 inch center Dean Wade back, as he missed the first 2 games due to a foot injury. Wade is an all Big -12 forward who averaged 16.5 points and 6 rebounds per game this season so he will be a big addition if he plays. Kentucky had no trouble beating the 13th seeded University of Buffalo 95-75. Kentucky was able to pull away in the second half as they led by just 9 at halftime.

Kansas State’s defense dominated UMBC limiting them to just 29 percent shooting as they made 14 of their 47 shot attempts. They also had 13 steals on their way to forcing 17 turnovers. Their offense struggled hitting just 1 of their 12 three point attempts. Junior guard Barry Brown led the team with 18 points. Sophomore forward Makol Mawien was the only other player in double digits with 11 points. They outrebounded UMBC 35 to 28 and made 13 of their 18 free throw attempts.

Kentucky’s offense clicked all night last week against Buffalo. Three players scored in double figures and were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who had 27. He was very efficient hitting 10 of his 12 shots while also have 6 assists and 6 rebounds. As a team they shot 56 percent from the field including 7-15 from behind the arc. They won the rebounding battle 42-30 but committed 13 turnovers to Buffalo’s 10. Defensively, they limited the Bulls to 38 percent shooting including just 7 of 31 from behind the arc. They also had 6 steals and 4 blocks.

Kentucky will be 5.5 point favorites for this contest. Under Coach John Calipari they are a perfect 6-0 in Sweet Sixteen games. Kansas State is making their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 2010 when they were defeated in the Elite Eight. If Wade can return for them, it will be a huge boost as he was held to less than 10 points just 4 times this season. Kentucky is also dealing with an injury as leading rebounder Jarred Vanderbilt has been out since the SEC tournament. Vanderbilt and Wade are both expected to play Thursday night. Before the tournament began Kansas State lost 3 of their past 4 games. During the season they did have big wins against Oklahoma, TCU and Texas. On the other hand, Kentucky has won 10 of their last 11 games and are the hotter team coming into this game.

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