We’re in Atlanta for the South Regional where we will be providing live coverage of Kentucky taking on Kansas State with an Elite 8 birth on the line. Keep it here for live updates, NBA draft prospect evaluations and more from Philips Arena. You can interact during the game through the comments section as you react to the Kentucky-Kansas State March Madness matchup.
With Cincinnati and Arizona both suffering early upsets, the path to the Final 4 looks wide for Kentucky, but Kentucky coach John Calipari has tried to prevent his team from looking ahead. The theme all week from Calipari has been encouraging his team not to drink the “poison.” What is the poison? According to Calipari, it is the Wildcats believing anything comes easy during the NCAA tournament.
“Challenge is making sure the team doesn’t drink that poison,” Calipari noted in his Sweet 16 press conference. “That poison being they have an easy road. There are no easy roads in the tournament.”
For Kansas State the story has been the Wildcats ability to overcome adversity and injuries to make a Sweet 16 run. Kansas State has been without leading-scorer Dean Wade for the first two games of the tournament. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported Wade is expected to play tonight, but will be limited.
Kentucky features potentially three NBA first round draft picks. In my latest mock draft, I have forward Kevin Knox and point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being selected with back-to-back lottery picks at No. 13 and No. 14. Shooting guard Hamidou Diallo flirted with the draft in 2017, but opted to return to Kentucky for another season. It has been an inconsistent season for Diallo, who I have sneaking inside the first round at No. 29.
Alexander has been the most consistent player for Kentucky averaging 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds while shooting over 41 percent from the three-point line. Knox has also flashed averaging 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from long range.
ESPN’s rankings have P.J. Washington (No. 45), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 62) and Wenyen Gabriel (No. 98) in the NBA mix as well. These rankings are all based on what each Wildcats player would be ranked if they declared for the draft, which will be unknown until after the season.
Alexander, Knox and Diallo all took the podium for Kentucky’s Sweet 16 press conference. When asked how the three players were balancing their NBA aspirations with the team goals, Knox explained Calipari sat down each player individually to discuss their roles for the season.
A Final Four appearance could only help Kentucky’s top players’ NBA aspirations as they continue to get a chance to shine during the NCAA tournament, but Kentucky would be foolish to overlook Kansas State.
Chime in with your thoughts on the game in the comments section. We will be providing live updates from Atlanta once the game tips off at approximately 9:37 p.m. Eastern.
Source: Heavy Sports