#12 Kansas Jayhawks (14-3) at #2 West Virginia Mountaineers (15-2)
We closed out the weekend with back to back winners out of the Pac-12 conference! Last night we focused on the University of Southern California Trojans as they played at home against the Utah Runnin’ Utes. The game was not at all competitive as USC jumped out to a huge 46-22 first-half lead and coasted the rest of the way out, eventually winning 84-67, and easily covering the -6.5-point spread. It goes to show you just how talented this team is and how well they can play at times.
If they can get their act together, USC could be a sexy dark horse Final Four pick. I don’t want to overreact to one good performance, but this team is loaded with talent and they put the rest of the Pac-12 on notice last night. Today I will break down a matchup of two of the best teams in the Big-12, the Kansas Jayhawks and the West Virginia Mountaineers.
The Kansas Jayhawks will travel to a place they absolutely hate to play at tonight when they head to Morgantown to play the West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big-12 battle. The Jayhawks have lost their last four trips to Morgantown and are looking to take back control of the Big-12 with a win tonight. Kansas enters play at 14-3 on the season and is ranked 12th in the country.
The Mountaineers are reeling a little bit after losing Saturday night on the road to a very good Texas Tech team 71-72. It was the first league loss for West Virginia on the year and snapped what was the longest winning streak in the nation, at fifteen games. The Mountaineers come in at 15-2 and are ranked number two in the country. The Mountaineers are -6.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 157 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from WVU Coliseum.
This is as good at college basketball gets tonight. Two of the best teams in the country fighting over a conference title in a league that is the best in the land. The Kansas Jayhawks have won thirteen straight Big-12 titles. As of right this second, that streak is in grave danger. The Big-12 is really, really good this year. There are four teams currently ranked in the top twelve in the country playing out of the Big-12. Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Oklahoma all look poised to snap one of the most impressive streaks in the history of college basketball. But not if the Jayhawks have anything to say about it!
Kansas doesn’t have the best team in the Big-12 this year. They just don’t. This team is not the same caliber that Bill Self is used to having in Lawrence, and I predicted before the season began that the streak of thirteen consecutive Big-12 titles would come to an end this season. But, that being said, this is still a very good team, and they will not go gently into that dark night.
Either way the streak goes, you will likely be able to look back at this game and see where Kansas stepped up and kept it alive or where they dropped back and let it go. The Jayhawks are already in fourth place in the league, if they lose this game and are a game back of three different teams, I don’t see how they can make it up and catch them all and keep the streak alive.
The West Virginia Mountaineer hype train was chugging full speed ahead until it got derailed by a hot shooting Texas Tech team Saturday night. There is no shame in losing to a very good Texas Tech team on the road, they will likely be a top-five team when the rankings come out later today, but it showed that teams can beat this press. You can do it by attacking the basket and getting to the line. The Red Raiders made 24/28 free throws against West Virginia, and that ended up being the difference.
West Virginia isn’t the second-best team in the country, I hate to break it to WVU fans, but they just aren’t that good. They put together a great run of wins against some very good teams, but the hype has gotten a little out of control.
Don’t get me wrong, they are very, very good, but they aren’t the second-best team in the country. They have a swarming defense and a great full court press that wears teams down, but that is about it. They don’t have elite scoring, and if a team gets hot shooting, or can get to the line a lot like Texas Tech did, they are very vulnerable.
The Mountaineers have beaten Kansas four straight times at home in this matchup, something that is unprecedented in this rivalry, but that streak is in jeopardy tonight. I just don’t know if the Mountaineers are going to be able to stop listening to their own hype long enough to beat Kansas.
There is a reason that the Jayhawks have won thirteen straight titles, and it’s because they know how to win games like these. I don’t know how they are going to do it, but Bill Self is going to find a way to keep this game tight tonight in Morgantown.
This line opened at Kansas +7.5, and I jumped all over it. I don’t care where this game is being played or who they are playing, I will back a Bill Self coached Kansas team getting 7.5 points anytime I get the chance. The sharps agreed with me, and this line has been bet all the way down to Kansas +6.5.
It could drop even further. It looks like I am not the only one that isn’t quite ready to crown the Mountaineers. I expect an epic game that comes down to the wire. There just isn’t much that separates the top tier of the Big-12 this season and given the opportunity to snatch up a handful of points, I can’t pass it up. Give me the Kansas Jayhawks +6.5 points tonight in what should be a thriller of a game.