West Virginia (23-6, 11-5) at Baylor (23-6, 10-6)
When: Monday, February 27th 2017
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, TX
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPNU
The West Virginia Mountaineers and Baylor Bears might have identical records, but they are two squads who are going in different directions. Baylor was ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation back in early January, but have now lost five of their last eight games and were smoked earlier this season in Morgantown. The Bears are coming off a 72-69 loss at Iowa State on Saturday and will need to win their final two games to avoid possibly getting the five seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament. Making things even worse for Monday night’s rematch is that starting point guard Manu Lecomte has been nursing a sprained ankle that he re-injured early in the second half of Saturday’s loss at Iowa State and is questionable for Monday night’s contest. Baylor committed 29 turnovers in the first meeting with the Mountaineers – the most in a game since 1999 and tied for the fourth-most in a game in school history. Rebounding was an issue in Saturday’s loss at Iowa State as the Bears lost that battle 37-17 and 26-2 in second-chance points. Junior forward Johnathan Motley, an All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate, leads the team in scoring (17.3) and the conference in rebounding (9.8) while Lecomte (12.4) is the only other Bear averaging in double figures while also shooting 41.4% from 3-point territory.
West Virginia comes in tied for second place in the Big 12 with Iowa State and will still play the Cyclones to close out the regular season on Friday night. The Mountaineers started their two-game Texas road trip with a narrow 61-60 win at TCU on Saturday as Daxter Miles Jr., who is averaging 8.7 points, sank the winning free throw with 4.8 seconds left after controversial foul on Horned Frog freshman point guard Jaylen Fisher. The Mountaineers, who have won five of their last six games with the lone loss coming in overtime at conference champ Kansas, have injury issues with sophomore forward Esa Ahmad, the team’s second leading scorer (11.7). Ahmad will not make the trip to Waco because of back spasms. Junior guard Jevon Carter leads the team in scoring (12.7), assists (4.1) and a conference-leading 2.8 steals per game while senior forward Nathan Adrian also is averaging in double figures (10.4) while grabbing a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per contest. West Virginia leads the nation in turnovers forced per game (21.55) and steals per game (11.0).
I have to take the hotter team in this one. West Virginia plays pretty tough on the road especially lately and the Bears are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite – a roll they’re not comfortable in.
Pick: West Virginia +2.5
HEAD TO HEAD
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