West Virginia Mountaineers at Kansas Jayhawks – NCAAM December 22

No. 7 West Virginia (7-1,1-0) at No. 3 Kansas (7-1, 1-0)

Series:

Kansas holds a 14-5 advantage as the game was played in 2012-13 season when the Mountaineers joined the Big 12. Kansas has won eight of the last nine in the series, including 2018 where the Jayhawks took a 77-69 win in Lawrence as they went to the line 35 times to only two for the Mountaineers.

Vs. the Spread:

The Mountaineers are 4-4 ATS while the Jayhawks check in at 3-4. The total has gone UNDER in 13 of West Virginia’s last 19 games while the Mountaineers are 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight road games. WVU is also 2-6 ATS in their last eight games against the Jayhawks. The total has gone UNDER in four of the last five games between West Virginia and Kansas and the UNDER has been the play in five of Kansas’ last six games this season.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
West Virginia +2½ (-110) +123 O 139 (-115)
Kansas -2½ (-110) -143 U 139 (-105)

Last Time Out:

Mountaineers guard Miles McBride scored 18 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 21 seconds remaining as West Virginia outlasted the stubborn Iowa State Cyclones, 70-65. Derek Culver had 18 points and 12 boards as he notched his fifth double-double this season. WVU made 14-of-16 free throws in the final six minutes.

Ochai Agbaji made the go-ahead layup with 13 seconds remaining as Kansas got by Texas Tech, 58-57. Agbaji was 8-of-11 from the floor with for 3-pointers and only one turnover in 34 minutes.

No. 1 Gonzaga: Both teams’ lone loss this season came against No. 1 Gonzaga. Neither team could do much to slow the Bulldogs’ aggressive offense. The Jayhawks saw Gonzaga first at the Fort Myers Tip-Off where they dropped a 102-90 decision when Gonzaga shot 64.5 percent from the field. West Virginia took Gonzaga to the brink in Indianapolis a week later as the Zags shot 49.3 percent while Derek Culver netted 18 points and pulled down 15 boards.

Mountain Air:

West Virginia Mountaineers LogoThe Mountaineers are looking to shoot better consistently and must do this if they are to take home their first ever win in Phog Allen Field House. They are 243rd in the nation in effective field goal percentage, per kenpom.com, and they have struggled in shooting 45.3 percent from 2-point range.

The Jayhawks are similar in those stats in checking in at 186th in effective field goal percentage. The key is that Kansas shoots better from the 3-point line (39.2%).

Defending Derek Culver on the boxes will be a mission for Kansas big men David McCormick and Jalen Wilson. Culver’s (14.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg) power and athletic ability allow him to average a double-double as Oscar Tshiebwe (8.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is talented enough to occupy Kansas as well. Although Kansas guard Marcus Garrett had the preseason clippings, WVU’s Miles McBride (15.0 ppg/4.3 rpg) has outplayed him to this point. Taz Sherman can be the X-Factor for Coach Bob Huggins as he shoots 46.3 percent from behind the arc.

From the Hawks’ Nest:

Kansas Jayhawks LogoGarrett has 31 assists against 10 turnovers, but shoots only 35.9 percent from the field in 31.1 minutes per game. Defending the three will be high on the game plan for the Mountaineers with Agbaji (47.7% – 3) and Christian Braun (41.0% – 3) as the top two marksmen.

WVU holds opponents to 29.5 percent, so it may be up to Jalen Wilson or Bryce Thompson to step up along side Agbaji and Braun on the perimeter.

How the referees allow physicality in this game will be a key in how it unfolds. Normally, the Jayhawks get the calls in Phog Allen, especially in the clutch of games. Culver and Tshiebwe need the same whistle as McCormick, Wilson and Mitch Lightfoot. The glass is a key as well as Kansas is at a (+10.2) while WVU (+6.4). Neither team has been strong at forcing steals and turning those into transition points through so far.

Winner: Kansas (-2.5) 76, West Virginia 71
O/U: Take OVER 139

The Bets
Kansas -2½
-110
OVER 139
-115
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.