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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Early in the season, avid college basketball fans began circling Monday Night’s Kansas/West Virginia game on their calendars. Kansas was going to be a highly regarded team as usual. But, West Virginia had taken some big strides forward this season…and seemed particularly dangerous at home. There was a time when some computer types saw West Virginia as the best team in the Big 12 with Kansas lagging behind them!

The world has changed a lot since then. This is no longer one of the games of the year in college basketball. And, West Virginia is no longer “unbeatable” at home. These disappointments in Morgantown are now on the resume:

West Virginia (-4.5) lost at home to Iowa State 74-72

West Virginia (-9.5) had to go over time to beat TCU

West Virginia (-5.5) lost at home to Baylor 77-58

West Virginia (-11) only beat Kansas State 76-72

Yes, they did blowout Oklahoma…and coasted past Texas Tech. It’s not ALL bad. But, this certainly isn’t the frightening force everyone was imagining. Real powers don’t sweat TCU at home. West Virginia got waxed by the Baylor team that just lost by 10 in Lawrence this past Saturday!

That Baylor/Kansas game might provide some hope for the home dog tough. It’s only two days later. And, Kansas is in an obvious letdown spot after rallying from 13-points behind in the first half to get that victory. West Virginia basically no-showed a revenge spot at Iowa State because they were looking ahead to this rare prime time TV spotlight. So, the “intangibles” are still there in terms of a big home effort. Is West Virginia good enough to get the job done?

Let’s crunch some numbers!


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Kansas: 114.7 per 100 possessions (#14 in the nation)

W. Virginia: 107.2 per 100 possessions (#66 in the nation)

West Virginia is prone to long cold spells where they can’t hit a shot while opponents are running away from them. This is characteristic of a few full court press teams. They can score easy buckets of steals, but aren’t trustworthy out of their halfcourt sets. Kansas has weapons, and an inside-out game that can hit open treys (as you saw in the final minutes vs. Baylor). Big edge on this side of the floor to the visitors.


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Kansas: 91.6 per 100 possessions (#16 in the nation)

W. Virginia: 92.3 per 100 possessions (#25 in the nation)

West Virginia’s defense is better than people realize. They play at a fast pace that creates artificially higher scoring games. On a per-possession basis, it’s a Dance caliber unit. It’s just not as good as Kansas! The key Monday will be whether or not Kansas has the mental energy and focus in a letdown spot to avoid turnovers against West Virginia (and crowd) pressure. Two good defenses here. West Virginia will need to score easy buckets off takeaways to score the upset.


Pace Ranking

Kansas: #62

W. Virginia: #9

This is a good sign for entertainment value. Kansas is used to being the fastest team on the floor. Now their athletes will get to run like the wind. That only earned them a split vs. Iowa State…but West Virginia went 0-2 vs. Iowa State. That means teams who are used to speed aren’t bothered that much by the Mountaineers. Should be a very fun game to watch. So…watch!


Against the Spread

Kansas: 15-8-1

W. Virginia: 12-11

Pay close attention to those numbers. Kansas is actually underrated! Usually the superpower programs have trouble getting past 50/50 because they’re always priced at perfection. They have to play great just to be in the neighborhood of the number. The Jayhawks are almost a 67% cover team this year…which is a true testament to their talent and consistency. West Virginia is 0-4 ATS the last two weeks after a great start.

Volatile potential here. If Kansas isn’t ready, they could get run out of the gym. If Kansas is ready…well they just beat the Baylor team that won easily on this floor…and they’re certainly a lot better than the TCU and Kansas State teams who played nailbiters here. The Vegas line could be off by at least 7 points in either direction.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have a play in this one because it’s a light schedule. You can purchase the final word for Monday right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 any time during normal business hours.

BIG MONDAY tips off a busy week of college baskets. Here’s what’s ahead this week in the NOTEBOOK…

Tuesday: College Basketball Preview… LSU at Texas A&M in the SEC

Wednesday: College Basketball Preview…North Carolina at Duke in the ACC

Thursday: College Basketball Preview…Temple at SMU in the AAC

Friday: Early Look…Iowa State at Texas or W. Virginia at Okie State in the Big 12

Saturday: College Basketball GameDay…UCLA at Arizona in the Pac 12

Sunday: College Basketball…Evansville at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley

Monday: College Basketball…Louisville at Georgia Tech in the ACC

Border-to-border and coast-to-coast…it’s wall-to-wall basketball! What are you waiting for? Don’t sit in the sidelines…GET IN THE GAME!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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