The Big 12 was an absolute gauntlet all year long as one of the best conferences in quality of play. Both West Virginia and Texas Tech could easily make a run in any other conference, but unfortunately have to face each other with only one team moving on. Backed behind two elite defenses, my prediction is that the total will cruise under in what will be a potential slugfest.
Texas Tech Vs. West Virginia Prediction
It hasn’t been exactly the vaunted “Press Virginia” defense that we have been accustomed to over the past few years, but WVU once again fields a respectable defense by ranking 53rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. WVU can still throw the kitchen sink at you by playing in your face for the full length of the court but have fared far better as a half-court defensive unit instead this season.
Especially in the interior, playing a UCLA type havoc style defense by clamping down on the ball handler when they make a cut. This forces the player into havoc situations, potentially making an ill-advised pass and forcing a turnover or wasting precious clock that results in a forced look at the rim. This doesn’t bode well for the Red Raiders as they cough up the ball at a high rate, ranking 283rd in Turnover Percentage.
These lost possessions for the Red Raiders play into our under tickets hands as this negates their ability to generate consistent scoring opportunities. Especially when coupling it with their pace of play, clocking in a pace that ranks 173rd in the nation in Adjusted Tempo. Their tempo has also continued to slow down since the return of big man Fardaws Aimaq, opting into playing through him while he does work on the low post.
The Red Raiders were robbed of his conservative offensive style of play throughout the course of the season as he was frequently in and out of the lineup while dealing with injuries. Since his return, he has paced the Red Raiders as their leading scorer while also slowing the scoring pace down with his interior play. He also brings a defensive presence, smothering WVU’s interior looks with his 6’11” frame.
Texas Tech Vs. West Virginia Odds
Even with Aimaq getting a few games under his belt since his return, oddsmakers are still iffy on the Red Raiders ability to get the win as they opened Texas Tech as a +2.5 underdog. Bettors are also siding with the Mountaineers, taking them up to as high as -4.5 in some shops. This comes as no surprise as West Virginia should generate extra opportunities to put this away with their Havoc minded defense. Texas Tech is already an anemic offensive unit, now potentially playing with less offensive possessions to keep within scoring pace.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a quick pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 147. Bettors like me are siding with the under, taking it down to 146.5 as of writing. Texas Tech is no slouch on defense either, basing their identity off of years past by playing a suffocating style of pressure ball. They excel at shifting towards ball movement, always having a defender in the shooter’s face to negate the quality of look at the rim.
Texas Tech Vs. West Virginia Key Matchups
West Virginia rebounding vs Texas Tech big men
It’s not only enough that both units excel at smothering opposing looks and generating Havoc, both teams are also elite at negating second chance opportunities.
This bodes especially well for West Virginia as the Red Raiders base a brunt of their offensive success on second chance opportunities. Texas Tech is a poor shooting unit yet excels at crashing the glass to remain competitive on the offensive end.
West Virginia holds opponents to an average of 8.1 offensive rebounds per game, yet 7.3 in their last five contests per TeamRankings. Should Texas Tech break their press, they are still in a bad spot while on offense with minimal looks at the rim. WVU’s ability to limit offensive rebounding is a key reason why the under should cash in my Texas Tech Vs. West Virginia prediction.
With plenty of havoc opportunities for both units, as well as limited second chance points, I will back the under in what will be a defensive slugfest.