Big East Conference Basketball: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Syracuse Orange

West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 4 Syracuse Orange
Saturday, 1/28/12, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPNU
Opening Point Spread:  Syracuse -11
Current Betting Line:  Syracuse -11
Opening Total:  140.5
Current Total:  140
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Syracuse UConn Big East Tournament Preview
The Syracuse Orange host the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday inside the Carrier Dome

West Virginia has won three of its last four games and is ranked No. 16 in terms of RPI heading into Saturday’s Big East Conference affair against Syracuse.  The Mountaineers are coming off a listless 78-62 loss to the St John’s Red Storm as 7.5-point road favorites last time out.  There’s no question that forward Kevin Jones is going to need to have a great game in order to register an upset in this matchup, averaging 20.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.  “He’s having a great year,” commented Orange head coach Jim Boeheim.  West Virginia is 1-4 ATS on the road this year.

The Mountaineers have tallied a 50-30 mark under current head coach Bob Huggins in Big East play.  Jones could become just the third player in the conference’s history to lead the league in scoring and rebounding.  Saturday’s game will mark the 50th all-time meeting in this series, with West Virginia picking up victories in just 16 of those games.  The program has dropped 12 of the last 13 meetings.

Syracuse bounced back from its first loss of the 2011-12 campaign and captured a 60-53 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats as 5.5-point road favorites.  The Orange are averaging 78.0 points per game and allowing just 60.3 points a contest, which allows them to outscore opponents by 17.7 points per game.  The team will likely be without starting center Fab Melo for a third consecutive game, as he continues to deal with an academic issue.  Syracuse is 1-5 ATS as a home favorite of 9.5 to 12 points the last two-plus seasons.

The Orange’s 20-0 start to this season was its best in school history and has already given Boeheim his 34th 20-win season on campus.  Senior forward Kris Joseph showed some leadership in the program’s latest contest, leading the team with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor.  He was a Big East Player of the Year candidate coming into the season, but his numbers have been average due to the depth of the roster.  It’s still important to note that he has scored in double digits in 18 games this season and 66 times in his career.

Bettors will likely back the Mountaineers due to their 7-0 ATS mark following a straight-up loss, while the Orange are 11-15 ATS when playing on Saturdays.

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