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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, February 15, 2016 at 5:00 PM

The Big 12 race has really heated up in recent days. Either this is going to be a loaded conference that wreaks havoc through the Big Dance…or everyone’s overrated and will go down in flames! For now, there’s at least very entertaining basketball being played on a daily basis. Tuesday brings co-leader West Virginia to Austin for a revenge battle against an improving but schedule weary Texas Longhorns.

Texas had to go to Oklahoma and Iowa State just after crawling into the top 25! Now they host a team they stunned a few weeks ago in Morgantown. No way the Horns catch West Virginia napping twice in a row.

We start with the Big 12 standings updated after results from a huge Saturday…


Big 12 Standings

West Virginia 9-3

Kansas 9-3

Oklahoma 8-4

Texas 7-5

Baylor 7-5

Iowa State 7-5

Everyone Else 5-7 or worse

Kansas survived its trip to Oklahoma to remain in a tie with West Virginia. Iowa State’s win over Texas brought those two teams together at 7-5…along with Baylor who was stunned at home in blowout fashion by inconsistent but interesting Texas Tech (the Red Raiders are the “5-7” team in “5-7 or worse”). Given media perceptions and computer ratings…those six listed squads should be safely in the Dance. Unless there’s a collapse, all six will have decent seeds too. Any of them could go deep.

Is Texas on the list of potential collapses…having worn down from a solid midseason run? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this Tuesday night matchup…


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

West Virginia: 112.7 per 100 possessions (#29 in the nation)

Texas: 111.4 per 100 possessions (#39 in the nation)

We always get our NOTEBOOK numbers from the publicly available database posted by college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. Texas has been playing much smarter in recent weeks, and is doing a good job of creating scoring opportunities. This is a much more “efficient” offense than the media realizes because pundits are being blinded by the slow Texas pace. Edge to West Virginia…but it’s not a mismatch at all (just 0.7 points per 100 possessions).


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

West Virginia: 90.9 per 100 possessions (#6 in the nation)

Texas: 94.8 per 100 possessions (#27 in the nation)

We’ve talked about West Virginia a few times already in previews. They have had a few spots where poor efforts didn’t live up to that ranking. Hard to imagine a poor effort here in a revenge situation on national TV. Texas under Shaka Smart is doing a very good job on this side of the floor as well. If they keep improving, they’re going to be a real handful for any Dance opponent. That’s the big question for handicappers. Has Texas hit a wall? Or, will they keep improving under a proven head coach?


Pace Ranking

West Virginia: #74

Texas: #319

One big reason that Texas was able to catch West Virginia napping in the first game was that they played at a sleepwalking pace! It’s tough to take a team out of its comfort zone on its home floor. Texas was able to do exactly that in Morgantown. Now the Mountaineers will try to return the favor in Austin by speeding things up against a tired opponent that may lose its discipline. Fun to see two extremes in pace squaring off in a big game.  


Against the Spread

West Virginia: 14-8 (9-12 to the Under)

Texas: 12-12 (10-14 to the Under)

Both teams are skewing Under this season. West Virginia because of its stingy defense, Texas because of its very slow pace. Worth thinking about at this home site. West Virginia is still underrated for the most part…going 5-2 ATS their last seven to reach 14-8 ATS for the season. But, those two losses were very high profile affairs at Florida and Kansas. Is this just a team that bullies the unprepared but fizzles otherwise?

JIM HURLEY is the man with the handicapping answers. You can purchase top nightly basketball releases right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages through March Madness or the NBA Playoffs, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

This amazing stretch of marquee basketball continues with these NOTEBOOK previews…

Wednesday: Duke at North Carolina in the ACC

Thursday: Wisconsin at Michigan State in the Big 10

Friday-Saturday: Kentucky at Texas A&M Saturday in the SEC

Sunday: Cleveland at Oklahoma City in the NBA (Lebron vs. Durant and Westbrook!)

Monday: Virginia at Miami in the ACC

Tuesday-Wednesday: Villanova at Xavier Wednesday in the Big East

It will be nice to get the NBA back from the All-Star Break this week. And, how about that “game of the year” in; the Big East that just popped up on the horizon!

Something exciting is always about to tip off in this Fabulous February. Be sure you’re getting all the BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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