No. 18 Mountaineers searching for solutions
Judging by the last two games, West Virginia’s much-ballyhooed press perhaps isn’t what it used to be. But can Bob Huggins’ group find a way to band together with No. 2 Kansas hitting town?
The Big 12 rivals clash tonight, with a 7 p.m. ET tip in Morgantown. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Mountaineers odds of -180 to take care of business at home. Conversely, the Jayhawks represent +160 underdogs.
Coming off a pair of agonizing losses, WVU desperately needs to vanquish Bill Self’s bunch for only the fourth time in the past nine meetings. Provided senior forward Nathan Adrian and his teammates protect the ball, that at least seems doable. The Mountaineers boast the No. 1 adjusted offensive efficiency in the nation, averaging 88.6 points per contest. Huggins also employs a deep rotation in order to maintain his preferred pace.
Still, the veteran coach could find himself utterly flummoxed by Frank Mason III. KU’s leading scorer shoots a whopping 53 percent from beyond the arc this season. His ever-capable supporting cast includes Devonte’ Graham and Josh Jackson, both of whom have produced multiple 20-point efforts in conference play.
If West Virginia’s truly serious about contending for a league title, well, here’s the quintessential litmus test. Bank on a down-to-the wire affair in which the defensive screws gradually tighten. In the end, though, we like the host squad to finally break through.
TUESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: KANSAS/WEST VIRGINIA UNDER 161.5 POINTS