(8) Kansas Jayhawks (-1.5, 146.5 o/u) at (21) West Virginia Mountaineers
The No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers (19-6, 7-5 Big 12) are in a dry spell. The team has lost three of its last four and fallen three games off the pace in the Big 12.
If the Mountaineers want to keep their hopes of a Big 12 regular season title alive, they will need a win tonight when they host the conference-leading Kansas Jayhawks (21-4, 10-2 Big 12) at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown (9:00 p.m. Eastern).
West Virginia has faced three top-25 teams in its last four contests, losing all three. On Saturday, Bob Huggins’ squad put in a dismal performance at both ends of the court against Iowa State, losing by 20 (79-59).
Huggins attributed much of the team’s recent struggles to youth.
“We don’t have the experience that we need to have,” said the coach. “We’re young. I never said that because I didn’t want to make excuses but, in fairness to them, we’ve got a very young team.”
The Kansas Jayhawks, on the other hand, have been playing some of their best basketball of late, winning seven of the last eight, including a ten-point win over the No. 16 Baylor Bears on Saturday.
Junior forward Perry Ellis had 18 points for Kansas in the win, including his 1,000th career point as a Jayhawk.
“I’ve coached him for three years, and he leaves me wanting more, but I haven’t thought that of late,” Kansas coach Bill Self said about Ellis. “I think he’s playing closer to his ceiling now than he has.”
Kansas is currently a 1.5-point favorite in the spread; the over/under is at 146.5.
Trend-wise, Kansas has taken three of the last four head-to-head meetings, but West Virginia took the most recent. The last three meetings in the series all hit the over.
The Jayhawks are the more skilled and more experienced team. Look for Kansas to outduel Huggins’ young squad tonight and stretch its lead at the top of the Big 12.
(Photo credit: SD Dirk (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)