The free money machine has been on full blast so far in 2020, and we added another win to that streak yesterday when we backed the Iowa Hawkeyes at home against the Michigan Wolverines. These two teams matched up earlier in the year in Ann Arbor, and Big Blue took that one in a high scoring and exciting game.
But since then, these teams have been headed in decidedly different directions as Michigan has been struggling, and Iowa has emerged as one of the best teams in the Big 10. So, I backed the Hawkeyes and expected them to exact their revenge. And that is just what happened.
Another Big 10 battle ?
Iowa tops No. 19 Michigan powered by Luka Garza’s 33pts & 7reb! pic.twitter.com/zXsFoZ61iQ
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 18, 2020
As I expected, Luka Garza once again torched Michigan, this time to the tune of thirty-three points. Garza now has a combined seventy-seven points in two games against Michigan. This game was competitive much of the way, but the Hawkeyes did a great job of closing it out and won and found a cover at home.
The win was a huge one for Iowa as they are now locks to find themselves in the top-25 of the AP Poll on Monday, and they are absolutely in the conversation for the best team in the Big 10. For Michigan, the Wolverines are in free fall of the sudden as they have lost six out of their last ten games and are just 2-4 in league play.
With the win, we ran our 2020 college basketball record to a borderline absurd 14-2. That is 87% winners and an 80% ROI. We will look to keep that hot streak alive today as we head to the Big 12, where the Kansas State Wildcats host the West Virginia Mountaineers.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (14-2) at Kansas State Wildcats (7-9)
- Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan
- 11:00 AM PST
- TV: ESPNU
The Kansas State Wildcats will face their biggest test of the season today as they host the Mountaineers of West Virginia. The Wildcats have really struggled so far in Big 12 play as they are 0-4, including two home losses. Their struggles in league play have been representative of their entire season as the Wildcats are just 7-9 and have lost nine out of their last twelve games. They would love to find a way to pick up a big upset win today at home.
— WVU Basketball (@WVUhoops) January 18, 2020
For West Virginia, the Mountaineers have really stepped up their game recently as they have won seven out of their last eight games, including signature wins over Ohio State, Texas Tech, and TCU. The one loss came to a Kansas team that has been in the top-five all year long. WVU has shot up the rankings on kenpom, and they are sitting at #4 entering play today.
Kansas State Wildcats
There isn’t a lot of good things you can say about this K-State team right now. They don’t have a single win over a top-100 team as their best win came over Tulsa. Four of their seven wins have come against teams outside of the top-200. But to be fair to the Wildcats, all of their losses have been to strong teams.
The Wildcats play a slow pace, and coupled with an inefficient offense, they are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country at just sixty-four points a game. They are bad from the line, worse from the field, and terrible from three. They don’t rebound well, and they turn the ball over a lot. That does not bode well for then today as they play a West Virginia team that currently has the number one ranked defense in the country.
West Virginia Mountaineers
How good is the Big 12 right now? Well, we already mentioned that West Virginia has shot all the way up the kenpom rankings to number four, and that makes them just the third highest-rated team in the Big 12, behind Baylor and Kansas. The league has just one team outside of the top-100, Kansas State, and eight of their ten teams are inside of the top-60 right now.
So, taking into account how strong this league is, that makes this start to the year for the Mountaineers, that much more impressive. League wins over TCU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State are all good ones that will help West Virginia secure a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.
And when you look at what the Mountaineers did in the non-conference, beating Akron, Pittsburgh, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Rhode Island, and Ohio State, you can argue that no team in the country has a resume as impressive as the Mountaineers do right now. But all that being said, winning on the road in league play is the toughest thing to do in college basketball, so they will need to be at their best in this one.
Who Do I Like?
These teams are simply not on the same level this season. West Virginia is a Final Four caliber team, and Kansas State may not win a single game in conference, and they won’t sniff postseason play. If this game were on a neutral floor, I could see the Mountaineers as double-digit favorites. The only thing keeping this number tight is the fact that it is being played in Manhattan.
But when you look at what K-State has done at home this year, it makes you think that the Mountaineers aren’t going to have much trouble picking up the win. The Wildcats have lost at home to Marquette, TCU, and Texas Tech. Those are all decent teams, but they are not near the level of this West Virginia team.
And on the flip side, West Virginia has had a lot of success on the road as they have true road wins over Pittsburgh and Oklahoma State, two teams that rate out as much better than this K-State team. Both of those wins came by double-digits, with an average margin of victory of fourteen points.
I think West Virginia blows this game out. I very rarely ever lay wood on the road in a league game, but this is a mismatch. When you look at the last two games that K-State has played, both have come against strong defensive teams, in Texas Tech and Texas. They scored just fifty-six points a game against those good defenses and they got blown out by fourteen points in both.
And this West Virginia team has the best defense in the country. I don’t think the Wildcats are going to score more than fifty in this one. I see the Mountaineers doing whatever they want and taking a big lead early and coasting to a double-digit victory. Give me the West Virginia Mountaineers laying -5.5-points on the road today in Manhattan!