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Big-12 action tips this afternoon as West Virginia visits the Kansas State Cyclones.
Checking in at #12 in the latest AP Poll, West Virginia owns three straight wins vs. the Big-12 after dropping a stiff conference opener vs. Kansas. Standing 14-2 (3-1 Big-12), Bob Huggins has kept his preseason vow to bounce back from last year’s sub .500 finish. To highlight an abrupt program turnaround, the Mountaineers have claimed recent successes vs. Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Ohio State, Texas Tech and TCU.
Meanwhile, one year after a spirited 25-9 effort, Kansas State finds itself treading the same water WVU just emerged from. The Wildcats have lost nine of 12 since eking by an uninspired four-game warmup schedule. Overall, KSU stands 7-9 and has dropped each of its four conference tests.
Last season the Wildcats swept West Virginia 2-0, though each roster has since undergone major transition.
K-State struggling after top-end personnel lossesMissing top end production from Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes, and Cleveland Cavalier Dean Wade, Kansas State’s new pieces aren’t quite fitting. Senior Xavier Sneed (14.6) and junior Cartier Diarra (12.6) lead an offense which lacks potency or depth. Overall, Bruce Weber’s men average 64.5 ppg (#317 NCAA). Mediocre 42-32 shooting, and slow tempo, give rise to the Wildcats’ shortcomings. Texas Tech used 24 point from Kyler Edwards recently to walk off Kansas State’s floor a 77-63 winner.
Final. pic.twitter.com/srUctpyapi— K-State Men's Basketball (@KStateMBB) January 15, 2020
The Wildcats’ respectable defensive pressure held little sway against the Red Raiders’ attack. In defeat, Diarra added 19 points. In total, Kansas State, partly due to slowed tempo, holds opponents to 61.8 ppg. This afternoon, K-State’s resolve will be measured by a well-rounded, defensively-exacting WVU unit.
WVU aims for continued success vs. conference visitorLed by the bruising interior production of five-star frosh Oscar Tshiebwe (11.8 ppg, 9.6 rebounds) and sophomore Derek Culver (10.8 ppg, 9.8 rebounds), the synergistic Mountaineers employ an atavistic inside-out, defense first style reminiscent of the Jordan-era Knicks or Heat. And just as Pat Riley’s taskmaster fingerprints marked those collectives, Bob Huggins’ imprint is all over this year’s WVU squad.
The Mountaineers do offense by committee averaging 72.1 ppg vs. NCAA’s third-toughest schedule. However, as noted, West Virginia’s shifting zone and imposing rim-protectors boost the team’s #9 defense. Overall, Huggins’ bunch allows just 59.2 ppg and 35-23 shooting -both numbers rate second best NCAA.
- Mountaineers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Mountaineers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win.
- Mountaineers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
- Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.
- Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
- Wildcats are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games following an ATS loss.
- Wildcats are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Wildcats are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Given Kansas State’s offensive shortcomings and WVU’s defensive mastery -along with credible offense- it would be a major upset if the Mountaineers didn’t hold serve today from home. That stated, as all the information needed for a solid choice is found in the team’s section, I’ll be brief in stating West Virginia will win its fourth conference game today.
Prediction: West Virginia
Full-Game Total Pick
Again, the Mountaineers’ toughness, poise and #9 rated defense is an extension of veteran coaching legend Bob Huggins. With a team built in his image, many quality opponents have wilted before this season’s Mountaineers. Today, Kansas State will be no different. And as each program prefers deliberate tempo, and values defense, expect an Under total as each shot is contested primarily within half-court confines. Take the Under.