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The 12th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers host the TCU Horned Frogs in a surprising huge early Big 12 Conference clash. Despite being projected to finish in the bottom four of the Big 12, both TCU and WVU possess winning conference records and sit in the top half of the league's standings. The Mountaineers (2-1) are currently tied for second in the league, one game in back of the Horned Frogs and Baylor Bears at 3-0.
WVU won the last meeting over TCU (104-96) in a wild triple-overtime affair, which saw 21 lead changes and 13 ties. The Mountaineers own a 13-2 advantage in the series though both of the Frogs victories have come in the last two contests in Fort Worth.
TCU Continues Strong Defensive PerformancesTCU (12-3) has run off four straight wins and is coming off a dominant defensive performance in its 52-40 win over Oklahoma State where the Horned Frogs held the Cowboys to 30.2% shooting from the field as well as just two of 19 (10.5%) from long-distance. The Horned Frogs were not an offensive juggernaut by any means in the game as they made only 16 of 48 (33.3%) shots from the field, including eight of 25 (32%) from the three-point line. Despite a putrid offensive performance overall by TCU, Desmond Bane turned in a fantastic all-around game. Bane recorded 20 points on 6-for-15 from the field and 4-for-8 from beyond the arc to go along with nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Freshman Francisco Farabello was the only other player in double-figures as he contributed 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
The Spin: TCU’s 3-0 start to Big 12 play is its best since joining the conference. The 40 points are the fewest that the Horned Frogs have permitted to a conference opponent. Bane, who is eighth on the program’s all-time scoring list, has six games of 20 or more points this year and is currently on a five-game double-figure scoring streak. He is averaging 19.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting 48.6% from the field as well as 3.8 treys at a 52.7% clip over this stretch. Farabello has been a valuable member of the team's second unit as he provides floor spacing with his three-point shooting. The 6-2 freshman guard has five multi-three-point games in his past eight outings and is averaging 1.1 treys at a 45.7% clip. Center Kevin Samuel has been highly efficient on both ends of the floor this season, shooting 66.4% from the floor while producing eight double-doubles. He is averaging 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks for a defense that has held seven opponents under 60-points this year.
Miles McBride Is Becoming Important Performer Off The BenchWest Virginia (13-2) turned in another spectacular defensive performance in its 66-54 victory over No. 23 Texas Tech on Saturday as the Mountaineers defense held the Red Raiders to just 28.4% shooting from the field along with six of 28 from the three-point line while also forcing 16 turnovers. Miles McBride led the way for the victors with a career-high 22 points off the bench as he knocked down eight of 11 shots from the field and five of six from the free-throw line.
WVU shot 41.8% from the field for the game but was just 3-for-15 (20%) from beyond the arc and committed 21 turnovers. The difference in the game was on the boards where the Mountaineers were a plus-13 and at the free-throw line as they tallied 17 more points (23-6) than the Red Raiders.
🎥 Highlights from West Virginia's 66-54 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday evening at the WVU Coliseum. pic.twitter.com/k2m7Hy4XQl— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 12, 2020
The spin: West Virginia has held each of its last four opponents to 60 or fewer points and has now done so on nine times this season. McBride has scored in double-figures in each of his previous six games, increasing his scoring average from 6.5 points a game to 10.1. The 6-2 freshman guard has topped the 20-point plateau twice and is averaging 15.1 points on 49.1% (29-59) shooting from the field as well as 50% (10-20) from long-distance during this span. Leading scorer and rebounder Oscar Tshiebwe was a monster on the glass and a terror on the defensive end versus Texas Tech, registering 17 rebounds (six offensive) and four blocks. The 6-9 freshman has totaled double-figure rebounds on seven occasions this year, totaling 17 or more (four times) while recording six double-doubles. Derek Culver is second on the team in scoring at 10.3 points a contest, but the 6-10 forward has failed to reach double-figures in each of his last four outings as he is only 10-for-27 (37%) from the charity stripe during this stretch. Culver is also second on the squad in rebounds at 9.6 a game and has hauled in seven or more boards in each of his last six games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I believe that this game is going to be a close defensive battle as it features two of the top-scoring defenses with the Mountaineers, allowing just 59.9 points a game and the Horned Frogs permitting only 60.2. While I give West Virginia a slight advantage in the matchup as they are playing at home, where they are currently undefeated (7-0), and as a result of them having size advantage, however, I am taking TCU and the points.
The reason I'm taking TCU is that I think that they can stretch/loosen up WVU's defense with their ball movement and perimeter shooting. The Horned Frogs, who typically use a four-guard lineup, is one of the best passing teams in the nation with a 63.7% assist rate. They are averaging a conference-best 10 treys a game and knocking them down at a 40.5% clip, which is also the best in the Big 12. While Bane is the most explosive offensive threat, it will be essential for them to get RJ Nembhard -- who can light it up when he gets rolling -- open looks in the early going. Jaire Grayer, Edric Dennis, and Farabello also can space the floor with their shooting. Additionally, I expect that TCU's pressure defense, which is forcing a turnover at a 21.3% rate, to cause WVU problems as the Mountaineers have committed over 18 turnovers a game during conference play. Rebounding, keeping McBride off of the foul line, and getting off to a quick start will also be crucial for the Horned Frogs.
Prediction: TCU +8.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I am going with the under. I expect this game will be a low-scoring defensive battle as both teams struggle on the offensive end, and each squad ranks among the top defensive teams in terms of efficiency -- WVU is No. 1 in KenPom's rankings at 83.2 while TCU is 23rd (89.5). The Mountaineers defense also owns the top effective field goal percentage in the nation at 39.6%. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs are limiting their opponents to 45.9% effective field goal percentage. Moreover, West Virginia's offense has registered an effective field goal percentage of 47.2%. In addition, TCU likes to control the tempo, and they are averaging just 66.9 offensive possessions. Besides, the under is 6-2 in the Mountaineers' last eight home games, and it has also hit in 12 of the team's previous 14 contests.
Prediction: Under 127.5