West Virginia (7-0) vs Virginia (7-1)
When: Tuesday, December 8th 2015
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The up-temp West Virginia Mountaineers face off against the slow-it-down Virginia Cavaliers in the Jimmy V Classic from Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. West Virginia has cruised through their first seven games against mostly inferior opponents with the exception of a 72-50 win against a good San Diego State team. The Mountaineers use constant pressure and formidable front-court. Forward Brandon Watkins, who missed the first six games while recovering from off-season knee surgery, played 17 minutes in last Saturday’s 87-54 win over Kennesaw State and had six points, six rebounds and a blocked shot. Watkins will join Nathan Adrian, Jonathan Holton and Elijah Macon, along with 6-foot-9 Devin Williams, who scored a career-high 26 points against Kennesaw State. Williams leads the team scoring 18.7 points a game and is tops in rebounding as well at 10.7. West Virginia leads the nation in forcing 23.4 turnovers per game.
They’ll face a Virginia team who doesn’t turn the ball over very much. They lead the nation turning the ball over just 7.4 times a game. The Cavaliers matched a season low with six turnovers and never trailed in last Saturday’s 67-52 victory over William and Mary. Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon each contributed 16 points as the Cavaliers have won six in a row since suffering their only loss of the season to George Washington on November 16th. Darius Thompson has scored in double figures in three consecutive games and Brogdon averages a team-high 17.3 points per game. Seven-foot center Mike Tobey, a New York native, leads the team in shooting at 55.8%. Surprisingly, the defensive minded Cavaliers shoot pretty well themselves and are ranked 19th in the nation at 49.9%. They have held their opponents under 60 points in six of their eight games. Virginia will get 11 days off after tonight in preparation for a couple of really tough games against Villanova and California.
The West Virginia temp has been pretty impressive this season and I think Virginia will be challenged. If the Mountaineers can improve on their 28.5% three-point shooting, they have a shot at winning this game. I’ll take the points.
Pick: West Virginia +4.5