The Big 12 takes center stage on Tuesday night as the No. 7 West Virginia Mountaineers visit Allen Fieldhouse to takes on the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks are slim two-point favorites at home, with the over/under for the game set at 140.5 points.
The Mountaineers have been perfect this season outside of an 87-82 loss to Gonzaga. West Virginia has taken down the likes of VCU, Georgetown, and Richmond on their way to being 7-1, including a 70-65 win over Iowa State in their Big 12 opener. A majority of their wins have come by 10 points or fewer, so they aren’t pulling away from teams.
Likewise, the Jayhawks are also perfect this season outside of a loss to Gonzaga. Kansas began the season with a Thanksgiving Day loss to Gonzaga but has rattled off seven straight wins. The Jayhawks have knocked off Kentucky, Creighton, and Texas Tech, all of which were ranked at the time, although they barely pulled out a comeback win against the Red Raiders over the weekend to begin conference play.
Kansas Jayhawks Preview
The results have been as expected for Kansas, although the method is not necessarily how Bill Self drew it up. Marcus Garrett, while still an elite defensive player, hasn’t taken a step forward offensively. Freshman Bryce Thompson has also struggled to assert himself, averaging just 5.6 points per game.
The same can be said of Tyon Grant-Foster, a junior college transfer scoring 4.3 points per game. Meanwhile, big man David McCormack has been wildly inconsistent, coming up big against Creighton but struggling with foul trouble against Texas Tech.
Instead, Ochai Agbaji has stepped up as the team’s top performer, averaging 15.3 points per game while shooting close to 48% from the perimeter. Freshman forward Jalen Wilson has been the savior for the Jayhawks early in the season, with Garrett, Thompson, and McCormack performing below expectations. Wilson is giving Kansas 14 points and eight rebounds per game. However, he also had an off night against Texas Tech, which could be a concern for the Jayhawks.
West Virginia Preview
The Mountaineers might have the best backcourt-frontcourt combination in the Big 12 in Miles McBride and Derek Culver. McBride is dishing out more than four assists per game while also leading the team with 15 points per game. Inside, Culver is averaging a double-double with 14.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
West Virginia has a lot more than the duo of McBride and Culver. Taz Sherman has been a great X-factor this season, averaging 12.1 points per game. However, West Virginia’s scoring is a little inconsistent beyond that trio. The Mountaineers also don’t have many of capable outside shooters. That being said, they remain one of the strongest defensive teams in the Big 12, which helps make up for the lack of outside shooting.
The Pick Is In
This game will be a great test for both teams, especially since both are likely to be chasing Baylor for the top spot in the Big 12 this season. In the end, the Jayhawks are too good at home, even with Allen Fieldhouse at 15% capacity. Kansas has four wins this year of four points or fewer, but that shouldn’t give you pause here. Bet on Kansas to pull away enough to win and cover the two-point spread.
FREE PICK: Kansas Jayhawks (-2).
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