The semi-final round of the Cayman Islands Classic will feature the Nevada Wolfpack taking on the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams were able to get the job done in round one and move into the winner's bracket so we’ll break down the game and give out a betting pick as well.
The Nevada Wolfpack enter today off a first-round win against Tulane, a game in which they came in as +3.5 point underdogs. The Wolfpack are now 5-0 on the season but today will be their toughest test to date. Jarod Lucas carried the team yesterday with 22 points and has led the team in scoring all season averaging 17 ppg.
Freshman Darrion Williams has played a huge role for this team so far and after winning Mountain West Freshman of the Week in the first two weeks of the season he carried that momentum into yesterday and drilled a huge three-pointer late in the game.
Kenan Blackshear and his defense have been another big factor in the Wolfpacks' hot start. Blackshear leads the team in steals and has helped Nevada limit opponents to an average of 56 points per game.
Kansas State has also been impressive on the defensive end holding opponents to a 25% three-point percentage and allowing an average of 55.8 ppg so far in their 4-0 start. Point guard Markquis Nowell has done a great job of both forcing turnovers and creating offense for his teammates as he leads the team in assists with 8 per game and in yesterday’s win, he was able to dish out 12 assists.
Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson has led the way for the Wildcats when it comes to scoring as he averages 15.5 ppg and is shooting 43.8% from three. The Wildcats are one of the best first-half teams in the country so look for them to come out aggressive on the offensive end.
Kansas State opened as -5.5 point favorites but in some books that number has gotten down to -4.5, which is exactly what I’ll be taking for my play this game. The Wildcats have simply done what they have been expected to do early this season and that is beating inferior mid-major opponents.
This Wildcats team has a big advantage when it comes to athleticism in this game and I think they could make Nevada uncomfortable on offense and force a lot of turnovers. Kansas State should be able to win on the boards and control the glass for the entirety of the game.
Jarod Lucas and Keyontae Johnson is a fun scoring match-up to watch but I think Johnson has the edge and will be the best offensive player the Wolfpack has seen so far this season. I’m expecting K-State to cover and make it to the championship game of the Cayman Islands Classic.