Bob Huggins is one of the more well-respected coaches in college basketball. And he hopes that his West Virginia Mountaineers aren’t going to be left out of the picture as far as Big Dance consideration is concerned. But the Big 12 is a loaded conference, and a considerable amount of importance is attached to Thursday’s game against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 tournament.
BetOnline customers can see this game at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, and in the college basketball betting odds, the Jayhawks are favored:
Kansas Jayhawks -3.5
West Virginia Mountaineers +3.5
Over 148.5 Points -110
Under 148.5 Points -110
West Virginia has already played a game in this tournament. On Wednesday, they defeated a Texas Tech squad that was without suspended coach Mark Adams. They got 20 points from Kedrian Johnson and pulled down 19 offensive rebounds. This test is decidedly more difficult. Behind coach Bill Self (in his 20th year at the university), Kansas is 25-6, and their Big 12 record is 13-5. Obviously, this compares favorably with West Virginia’s 7-11 conference record and 19-13 overall mark.
The Mountaineers are the 16th-rated team at the analytics site KenPom, but they have sustained double-digit losses to the likes of Purdue, Xavier, Texas, and Baylor, in addition to Kansas. In the first encounter, WVU got to the line 28 times, which is exactly what they wanted to do, but KU hit eleven triples. When they last met, on February 25, West Virginia got 14 offensive rebounds, but Kansas got hot again from the arc, hitting 10 of 20 in a 76-74 victory.
This time West Virginia will have to hit the offensive boards and get to the line, and maybe even that is not good enough.
Kansas wins with defense. They are ninth in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and they are allowing just 31.5% shooting from downtown. Offensively, this team is not as imposing as most of Self’s squads in the past. The Jayhawks are only 84th in the nation in Effective Field Goal Percentage. And they are below 35% from beyond the arc. Kansas does not play at a breakneck pace and really can’t afford to since only a couple of teams in the country go to the bench less often than they do. Example – they only got three points from reserves in the last meeting with WVU.
So West Virginia wants to get somebody into foul trouble. More than 22% of their points come at the free throw line, so clearly, that is the mode they’re in. We also must keep in mind, however, that KU has the best player on the floor – their 6-8 forward, Jalen Wilson.
Huggins often likes to employ a defensive strategy where he takes away the best player for the opponent. It will be interesting to see what he does with Wilson, who has scored a total of only 25 points in the two meetings. We see this as a game where both teams will put their best defensive foot forward. As such, we’re inclined to go UNDER in this one.
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