Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 12:00 PM
There just isn’t one SUPER-TEAM this year in college basketball that’s likely to run roughshod over the Big Dance next month. All the major conferences have at least a few teams capable of getting hot and running the table. The loaded Big 12 has more than a few! Two of those square off again Monday night when West Virginia visits Kansas in a rematch that all college basketball fans should be watching very closely.
Here’s what happened in the first meeting in Morgantown a few weeks ago…
West Virginia 85, Kansas 69
Two-Point Shooting: Kansas 40%, West Virginia 53%
Three-Pointers: Kansas 13/29, West Virginia 8/20
Free Throws: Kansas 6/15, West Virginia 19/23
Rebounds Kansas 32, West Virginia 39
Turnovers: Kansas 13, West Virginia 8
Phantom Score: Kansas 56, West Virginia 81
You regulars know that Phantom Score is simply two-point scoring plus rebounding. It’s a “secondary” score invented by JIM HURLEY many years ago. Here it paints the picture pretty well. Kansas was outmatched in everything but three-pointers. That’s the most fickle stat…and the Jayhawks needed that fickle stat just to hang within 16 points! The host Mountaineers dominated inside, and played much cleaner basketball. If you watched, you’ll recall that a close first half was followed by a second half clock-cleaning of Kansas.
Games like this remind everyone that Kansas is capable of laying huge eggs at the worst possible time. The problem with West Virginia is that they often have trouble reaching this level of performance away from their home court. If the Big Dance was played in Morgantown, these guys might be a Final Four team every year! Can West Virginia own the inside game in front of a hostile Kansas crowd?
Monday’s rematch is likely to see some pretty clear reversals. Kansas knows what it has to do to get revenge. But, that boxscore helps remind you why it’s dicey to ask the Jayhawks to dominate in March. Too many areas of vulnerability when they’re facing elite opposition.
Moving to JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats, which are Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats posted publicly at kenpom.com…
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency
West Virginia: 120.5 per 100 possessions (#7 in the nation)
Kansas: 122.0 per 100 possessions (#5 in the nation)
We definitely have two elite offenses here. These teams know how to move the ball around and score. They know how to get cheapies in transition when opportunities arise. These offenses will give headaches to whoever they face in the postseason.
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency
West Virginia: 91.4 per 100 possessions (#10 in the nation)
Kansas: 96.1 per 100 possessions (#41 in the nation)
West Virginia continues to grade out well. But, they probably aren’t a top 10 team on this side of the floor away from home when it comes to playoff style basketball. That will be clear in Lawrence. Good…but not as great as a #10 ranking might suggest. That mark for Kansas really jumps out if you’re a regular reader. Most true championship threats are better than #41 on defense. Defense wins championships! This is going to be a big problem late in close games on neutral floors next month. You have to get stops. You can’t send people to the free throw line. The Jayhawks very clearly don’t have a championship caliber defense. That leaves little margin-for-error on offense in their toughest tests.
West Virginia: #63
Those are both well above average paces…which means this could be a great game to watch! High tempo action with high quality offensive talent. If you’re just now focusing on college hoops in the aftermath of the Super Bowl…this is a great matchup to get you re-excited about the sport!
Against the Spread
West Virginia: 11-9
Kansas is always priced to perfection. They’re having big trouble covering pointspreads because the defense just isn’t up to muster this season. That mark is below 33% against the spread! Kansas was lucky to survive straight up in Lubbock Saturday afternoon in its most recent non-cover. Maybe they were looking ahead to this Monday Night rematch against the Mountaineers. Be sure you’re thinking about line value as you handicap this game. Kansas should be focused on revenge…but will oddsmakers overshoot the mark on how much that means?
As of press time, it’s not a sure thing whether or not JIM HURLEY will have a release in this TV blockbuster. Please check this website in the hours before tipoff for more guidance about BIG MONEY on BIG MONDAY!
You can always purchase JIM HURLEY’S top selections right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Be sure to ask about “rest of the season” packages for both college and pro basketball. You get the most bang for your buck with those longterm offers, particularly because every dollar you win in February will multiple a few times over through the Big Dance.
Back with you later this week for more big game previews. We’re barreling down THE ROAD TO MARCH MADNESS…fasten your seat belts and hang on for an exciting ride!