West Virginia (15-1, 4-0) at Texas Tech (14-2, 3-1)
When: Saturday, January 13th 2018
Where: United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, TX
Time: 2:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Texas Tech -3.5/144.5
The Kansas Jayhawks have dominated the Big 12 Conference for most of this century, but there may be a new kid on the block who will challenge that reign. The West Virginia Mountaineers are playing like a legitimate Final Four contender and will begin an important stretch when they travel to Lubbock, Tx. to take on the surging Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday afternoon. Since opening the season with an ugly 88-65 loss to Texas A&M in the Armed Forces Classic at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, West Virginia has reeled off off 15 consecutive victories en route to a No. 2 national ranking and first place in the Big 12 Conference. After Saturday’s contest at No. 8 Texas Tech, the Mountaineers head home for a game 55 hours later against 13-time defending conference champion Kansas. The Mountaineers will get even stronger this weekend when they see the return of Esa Ahmad, The 6’8″ junior had a career-high 27 points in a win over then No. 2-ranked Kansas last season and will be back in uniform after sitting out the first 16 games of the season because of an NCAA-imposed suspension. Ahmad, who averaged 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore and also had 31 steals and 21 blocks, has been practicing with the team while sitting out. West Virginia’s offense will be tested by a Red Raiders defense that leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth in nationally in scoring, allowing an average of 60.2 points per game. West Virginia has won seven of the last eight meetings but lost in overtime, 77-76, last year in Lubbock.
Senior point guard Jevon Carter leads West Virginia in scoring (16.1) and assists (6.8) but is even better on defense where leads the nation with 58 steals and is the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Senior guard Daxter Miles Jr. is second in scoring (13.8) and steals (27) while sophomore forward Lamont West is third in scoring (12.9) and is tied with Carter for second in rebounding (5.5). Sophomore guard James Bolden also contributes double figures in points (10.4) and leads the team in 3-point shooting, connecting on 40.9% of his attempts. West Virginia’s 15-game winning streak is the longest in the nation and is also the school’s longest since the 1988-89 team won 22 games in a row.
The Red Raiders had an eight-game winning streak come to an end with a 75-65 loss at No. 9 Oklahoma on Tuesday night and enter the “Red Out” game in a tie for second place with the Sooners and Kansas heading into Saturday’s action. Senior guard Keenan Evans, who had 32 points and eight rebounds in a 82-76 overtime win over Mountain West favorite Nevada earlier this season, leads the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (3.4). Freshmen guards Zhaire Smith (10.4 points) and Jarrett Culver (10.3) also are averaging in double digits while junior center Norense Odiase leads the team in rebounding (5.5).
This Big 12 is turning out to the most entertaining conference night in and night out. This matchup is no exception and should be another barn-burner. I’m a little surprised that the Red Raiders are favored by 4.5 points in this one, but that shows you how underrated they are and how tough homecourt advantage really is. I really like West Virginia’s tenacious defense to be the factor in this one. It will be a back-and-forth affair with one of these teams winning by a bucket or two. Take the points.
Pick: West Virginia +4.5
- Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Mountaineers are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Mountaineers are 3-11 ATS in their last 14 Saturday games.
- Red Raiders are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Red Raiders are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Red Raiders are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Red Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Red Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Red Raiders are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Over is 4-0 in Mountaineers last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Under is 5-1 in Mountaineers last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Under is 5-1 in Mountaineers last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Under is 4-1 in Mountaineers last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 4-1 in Mountaineers last 5 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 8-3 in Mountaineers last 11 vs. Big 12.
- Under is 5-2 in Mountaineers last 7 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Mountaineers last 7 road games.
- Under is 5-2 in Mountaineers last 7 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 9-4 in Mountaineers last 13 Saturday games.
- Under is 5-0 in Red Raiders last 5 Saturday games.
- Over is 4-0 in Red Raiders last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Under is 7-1 in Red Raiders last 8 vs. Big 12.
- Under is 12-4 in Red Raiders last 16 overall.
- Over is 5-2 in Red Raiders last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Over is 5-2 in Red Raiders last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Under is 7-3 in Red Raiders last 10 home games.
- Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Texas Tech.
- Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
- Mountaineers are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Texas Tech.
- Road team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings.