Kentucky Wildcats (15-5) at West Virginia Mountaineers (16-4)
Last night was a heartbreaker. We backed the Michigan State Spartans at home against the Badgers of Wisconsin. These two teams were clearly not evenly matched and had Michigan State given a full effort, they could have won by thirty points or more. Instead, they jumped out to a 16-point halftime lead and basically just coasted the rest of the way.
The Spartans were sitting right at the cover for much of the home stretch and ended up winning 76-61 and just missed the 17-point cover. It was a frustrating way to lose as it was clear that the Spartans were much more than seventeen points better, they just decided to coast rather than press hard. That is the danger though when you lay all that wood, sometimes you are on the right side, but the favorite loses motivation when the game gets out of hand.
Today we will break down a matchup in the Big 12- SEC Challenge between the Kentucky Wildcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers.
The Kentucky Wildcats will travel to Morgantown to play the Mountaineers of West Virginia Saturday afternoon. Kentucky comes into this one in a bit of a funk, having lost three of their last six games.
The Mountaineers have also been struggling lately in league play as they have lost three out of their last four games. Both team’s struggles have come against strong competition, and both of these squads could badly use a big resume-building win like this one, today.
The Mountaineers are -10-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 149 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from WVU Coliseum.
The West Virginia Mountaineers looked a lot like a Final Four team earlier this season. They play swarming defense and have a superstar running the point in Jevon Carter. The Mountaineers rose to as high as number two in the rankings and were heavy favorites to dethrone Kansas and win the Big 12 regular season title.
Then the reality of playing what is likely the best league in the land kicked in, and West Virginia struggled. There is certainly no shame in losing to Texas Tech and TCU on the road, both teams are very good and losing to Kansas at home?
Well, there is a reason Kansas has won thirteen straight Big 12 titles, they know how to win big time games. But it knocked the Mountaineers back from locks to win the Big 12 and favorites to head to the Final Four, to just another very good team in the Big 12. They will need to get back on track tonight in a big way if they want to cover a jumbo-sized double-digit number against Kentucky.
The Kentucky Wildcats are down this season. This isn’t your typical John Calipari coached Wildcats team. Yes, they have a lot of young talent as always, but this team doesn’t have a bunch of first-round lottery picks on it like most of coach Cal’s teams. Kentucky has somehow managed to play a pretty soft schedule this season, so their 15-5 record can’t be truly believed.
They played some tough teams in Kansas, UCLA, Tennessee, and Florida, but they lost all of those games. The best wins of the season for the Wildcats have been at home against a solid Texas A&M team, and at home against a decent Louisville team. This would be by far the biggest win of the year for Kentucky if they can sneak out of Morgantown today with a victory.
Kentucky has lost a total of one game this year by double digits. That was a 76-65 loss, on the road, at Tennessee. While they haven’t beaten too many of the good teams they have played this year, they have managed to keep the games close. As is almost always the case with a John Calipari coached team, this team is always going to get better as the season wears on. The young guys will start to get more experienced, and the team will gel.
I am a big West Virginia fan this year. Jevon Carter is the man and is the best lockdown defender in the nation right now. But at this point, the Mountaineers are relying on him too much. Carter has always been better on the defensive side of the ball rather than on offense, and over the last two weeks of struggles for West Virginia, they are asking him to score the ball at a rate that he just isn’t capable of. This has led to struggles on both ends of the floor, and the Mountaineers results have suffered because of it.
I was a little surprised this number opened as such a big one at -9-points. I was even more surprised that it quickly got bet up to -10-points and I am even seeing a couple -10.5 floating around. The public and the sharps all seem to like West Virginia to blow out Kentucky.
I just don’t see that happening. Coach Cal doesn’t have his normal firepower but that doesn’t mean this team isn’t talented, and they haven’t got blown out all year long. This is probably the toughest environment they will play in all year long, but I just don’t see the value in backing a West Virginia team that has lost three out of its last four games by double digits.
I think West Virginia wins the game. I would be absolutely shocked to see them drop this game on their home court. But ten points is just too big of a number against a well-coached and talented team in Kentucky. Kentucky is long and athletic, and if West Virginia looks for Jevon Carter to try and score thirty points against this defense, they are going to struggle.
I am going to get on the other side of the public on this one and back the Kentucky Wildcats getting a bunch of points at +10 tonight from Morgantown.