Kansas (12-6) at West Virginia (12-5)
When: Saturday, February 6th, 2021
Where: WVU Coliseum,
Time: 2:00 ET | TV: CBS
Opening Odds: West Virginia -2.5/142
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Only two games separate second and eight place in the Big 12 Conference and two of those teams will meet on Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, Wv. as the Kansas Jayhawks visit the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Baylor Bears are going to win the conference going away, but the battle is on for second place. Right now, West Virginia and Texas are sitting at 5-3 with Kansas just a game behind at 6-4. The Mountaineers were on their way to blowing out last place Iowa State on Tuesday, but almost blew a 15-point lead before hanging on for a 76-72 win as 11.5-point favorites. West Virginia failed to make a field goal over the final 5:52 and coach Bob Huggins was not happy. “This team doesn’t hold leads very well,” Huggins said. “They stop guarding, relaxed and let their guard down. There were instances when they missed some, the ball bounced off the rim and our guys never moved.”
Meanwhile, the Kansas Jayhawks have lost four of their last six and are close to being out of the top 25 for the first time in 231 polls. The Jayhawks bounced back from a blowout loss at Tennessee to handle rival Kansas State 74-51 on Tuesday. Kansas has played a tough schedule and four of their six losses this season have come against teams that were ranked in the top 11. In 18 seasons at Kansas, head coach Bill Self has never missed an NCAA Tournament and never been seeded lower than fourth. Kansas is 15-5 all-time versus West Virginia and have covered the spread in seven of the last nine. West Virginia has increased arena capacity to 1,500 for this game on Saturday.
In the win over the Wildcats, the Jayhawks got plenty of scoring from their starting unit, with four of five starters scoring at least 10 points. Backups continue to receive more extensive playing time and Tristan Enaruna responded to a season-high 20 minutes and recorded four points and four rebounds. Ochai Agbaji, who averages 14.1 points, scored 15 on Tuesday, while David McCormack and Christian Braun paced the Jayhawks with 18 a piece. Kansas is averaging 72.6 points per game so far this season while giving up 69.1. Bruan had 22 points and six 3-pointers in the win over the Mountaineers earlier this season, while McCormack had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kansas will host Oklahoma State on Monday.
Without a field goal for the final almost six minutes against Iowa State, West Virginia relied on making seven free throws for its final points and rode Derek Culver’s league-high ninth double-double to avoid an upset. The Mountaineers sealed the win with a forced turnover with 10 seconds left. West Virginia faces a big battle down the stretch with ranked opponents in each of their next six games beginning Saturday. Culver averages a double-double and leads all Big 12 rebounders at 10.4. Miles McBride (15.1) leads the Mountaineers’ scorers and leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. The Mountaineers are 17th nationally with 114.2 points per 100 possessions and are eighth overall with a 36.5 offensive rebound percentage. West Virginia will be at Texas Tech on Tuesday.
Kansas has struggled against ranked opponents and the Mountaineers will be looking for some revenge in this one. I’ll lay the short number at home.
Pick: West Virginia -2