West Virginia Vs. Kansas State Odds, Picks, and Predictions (3/9/22)
As the regular season came to a conclusion, the West Virginia Mountaineers finished in last place in the Big 12, going 15-16 overall and 4-14 in conference play. The Kansas State Wildcats solidified their eighth-place finish after taking a loss in the final regular season game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Since Oklahoma State is ineligible for the postseason, the Mountaineers and the Wildcats are the odd teams out that have an extra round to play in the Big 12 Tournament. The first round is set for Wednesday, March 9th, and tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM CST. The teams are already in Kansas City, Missouri, for play to start, and all games can be viewed on ESPNU/ESPN.
West Virginia vs. Kansas State Betting Odds
This matchup is the first round of the Big 12 tournament and will solidify the places of the bottom team in the Big 12. Both teams have impressive talent but failed to make a deep impression in the Big 12. The winner of this game will go on to play the #6 Kansas Jayhawks, so the end of the road is looking pretty near for both of these teams. Going into this matchup, the Kansas State Wildcats have a slight favor of -1 point. The Wildcats have performed better in conference play, going 6-12, upsetting big-name teams like the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Texas Longhorns. The Mountaineers have only been successful against Kansas State in one meeting and three other teams in the Big 12. Both teams have taken a victory over each other while on the road, so this game can lean either way. Even ESPN’s matchup predictor has a very small margin of confidence of 52% for Kansas State. Kansas State has a better record against the spread, going 15-13-2 compared to West Virginia’s 13-18. However, West Virginia’s head coach Bob Huggins has been notorious for his training of players for the postseason games. The teams are evenly matched, so this game will come down to the better defensive team, which I believe will be West Virginia.
My Prediction: West Virginia Wins 70-68
West Virginia Mountaineers Odds
The West Virginia Mountaineers have fallen flat this regular season in the Big 12. They are usually one of the more aggressive teams in the conference, but this year’s competition is one of the best we’ve seen in a while. The Mountaineers were up against teams that were in and out of the top 25, with four staying in as the regular season ended. They average 68.5 points per game and shoot 46.8% from the field as a team. After a seven-game losing streak at the end of their season, they were able to solidify a final win against TCU for their final game. This win gives the Mountaineers a big boost of confidence entering the Big 12 Tournament.
Their top shooter, Taz Sherman, is going to be the main player to watch in this match. He averages an astonishing 18.3 points per game with 42.2% accuracy from the field. In the last game of the regular season, Sherman led his team to the win with 25 points and 52.9% accuracy. Against Kansas State, Sherman put up 14 points when the Mountaineers won and 23 points when they took the loss. With the help of Sean McNiel, Sherman will keep the Kansas State defense focused on the perimeter while opening up opportunities under the basket for Jalen Bridges. This team will need to work on spreading the defense and staying unpredictable to challenge Kansas State’s strategy. Coach Bob Huggins will most likely want to keep feeding the ball to Sherman, but the team needs to have meticulous ball placements around the court for openings. Kansas State will try their best to defend Sherman heavily, so teamwork is the key for the Mountaineers to advance to the next round.
Kansas State Wildcats Odds
The Kansas State Wildcats are disappointed with their eighth-place seed in the Big 12 Tournament after taking a tough loss in their last regular-season game against the Oklahoma Sooners. The loss pushed them into the seed that requires one more game for tournament play, making it that much more difficult to find a Big 12 Championship title. As a team, they average 69.1 points per game and shoot 49.3% from the field. Their statistics are slightly higher than West Virginia, which is why they are the favorites coming into this matchup. When they lost to the Mountaineers in their first meeting, they shot 37.3% from the field, which is significantly low for the Kansas State offense. They were up 40-27 at the half but slipped up on their defensive coverage allowing the Mountaineers to make a comeback early in the second half. If they play similarly in this matchup, we might see a repeat game as we saw earlier in the season.
Sophomore guard Nijel Pack will be the leading offensive player for the Wildcats in this matchup. He averages 17.4 points per game and shoots 45.7% from the field. Against West Virginia, he averages 16.5 points per game. He was the leading scorer for his team in the game where the Wildcats fell to the Mountaineers but kept the team alive as best he could, scoring 20 points. When they won, he was only able to score 13 points. Pack helps lead his team in the most crucial moments. The team lost their last five games in the regular season, where he averaged 16.8 points with a high of 32 against Iowa State. The duo between Pack and Nowell will be the showstoppers for this team since both players are elevated shooters. Nowell averages 12.6 points per game and put up 21 points in the most recent meeting with WVU. These two will need to weave through the WVU defense in order to keep this game in their favor. If they fail to utilize both Pack and Nowell, this team will fall and fail to make it to round 2.
West Virginia vs. Kansas State Picks and Predictions
For this matchup, I think the gameplay will be very similar to the first meeting between the two teams. The Wildcats will take an early lead in the first half and will force the pressure onto the Mountaineers to make a late comeback. The Mountaineers were able to slip through the slack defense on Kansas State when they were comfortable and have the ability to do it again. In that matchup, Sean McNeil was on fire and will have every opportunity to steal the show again. I see Kansas State winning at the half, but West Virginia closing out the game with a victory.