#2 Kansas State Wildcats
#5 Butler Bulldogs
Vegas Odds: Kansas St -4
Why Watch? After knocking off Syracuse, Butler is the cinderella du jour (at least until Friday's action is complete). But like Kansas St (who is a bit of an unknown nationally) the Bulldogs are a Top 10 quality team that was simply under-seeded by the committee. Kansas St has a Top 10 offense while Butler has a Top 10 defense.. a combo that always leads to interesting games.
How Kansas St Got Here: Kansas St 101 - Xavier 96
How Butler Got Here: Butler 63 - Syracuse 59
Why Butler will win:
Butler hasn't lost a game since December and having won 23-straight, they're probably feeling a bit invincible. Butler was able to shut down Syracuse's 8th ranked offense, so Kansas St's 10th ranked offense will be chopped liver. None of the Bulldogs NCAA opponents have scored more then 59 points.
Bulldog to Watch:
Shelvin Mack, G - 14 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 apg
I've put Mack in this spot for all their games because he's the one guy that really makes the Bulldogs ticks. Against Syracuse, Mack was a dreadful 1-10 from three.. yet still was huge in the win with 6 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, and overall leadership. If he actually heats up from the outside against K-State, look out.
Why Kansas St will win:
KSU is the more well-rounded team, not only do they play underrated defense, but their guards can light it up. Unlike Syracuse, whose best players don't really have blow-by capabilities, Pullen & Clemente have the type of speed and quickness to cause issues for a Butler team that doesn't want to run. Plus, unlike Syracuse, Kansas St is a very good offensive rebounding team and should have an edge down low.
Wildcat to Watch:
Jamar Samuels, F - 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 1 apg
Samuels followed up 2 dismal games (3 points and 6 fouls in 31 minutes) with a rock-solid 14-point, 5-rebound game against Xavier. As mentioned above, KSU has a chance to do some damage on the boards, and Samuels along with Kelly & Sutton need to come up big (you don't have to worry about Pullen & Clemente showing up).
How it will go down:
Butler surprised me with the way they completely shut down Syracuse, but Kansas St is a more well-rounded team that will be harder for the Bulldogs to plan for. The winner of this game will have a very good chance in the Final Four against whoever comes out of the Midwest regional.
Betting Pick: Kansas St
Real Pick: Kansas St