College Basketball Big 12 Championship: West Virginia Mountaineers vs Kansas Jayhawks

2016 Big 12 Tournament – Championship Game
#2 West Virginia Mountaineers vs #1 Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, March 12, 2016, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Sprint Center – Kansas City, Missouri
Opening Line: Kansas -2
Current Line: Kansas -4
Opening Total: 144 ½
Current Total: 143 ½
Opening Money Line: Kansas -160 / West Virginia +140
Current Money Line: Kansas -190 / West Virginia +165

Kansas is favored against West Virginia in the Big 12 Championship game.
Kansas is favored against West Virginia in the Big 12 Championship game.

The 29-4 Kansas Jayhawks will likely be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament but first they have a very difficult game in the Big 12 Championship game against West Virginia Saturday night in Kansas City. Kansas is seeking their 14th Big 8/12 tournament title and first since 2013. The Jayhawks are the #1 seed after winning the Big 12 regular season title for a 12th straight season. Kansas beat #8 seed Kansas State 85-63 in the quarterfinals. The Jayhawks beat #5 seed Baylor 70-66 in the semifinals Friday night for their 13th straight win. Kansas led that game by 16 with just under two minutes to go and held off a furious Baylor rally.

West Virginia is 26-7 overall and was the #2 seed with a 13-5 conference record. West Virginia is seeking their first Big 12 tournament title and first tournament title since 2010 when htey were in the Big East. The Mountaineers beat the #10 seed TCU Horned Frogs 86-66 in the quarterfinals. West Virginia beat #3 Oklahoma 69-67 in the semifinals. The Mountaineers led by 12 with 7 minutes to go but Oklahoma rallied to take a 3 point lead. Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield hit the apparent game winning shot from half court  but officials reviewed it and said it was after the buzzer.

Kansas leads the series 5-3 against West Virginia. The teams split the season series with each winning at home. West Virginia won 74-63 in Morgantown January 12 and Kansas won in Lawrence 75-65 February 9. This is the first time the teams have met in the Big 12 tournament.

West Virginia is coached by Bob Huggins. The Mountaineers lost to Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic in New York. West Virginia has home losses to Texas and Oklahoma, plus road losses to Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Kansas.  WVU has won five straight games. The Mountaineers have home wins over James Madison, Richmond, San Diego State, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, Oklahoma State Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, Iowa State, and Texas Tech, plus road wins at Virginia Tech, Kansas State, TCU, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor. West Virginia is 20-10 ATS and the total is 13-16-1 this season. The Mountaineers were 1 point favorites against Oklahoma and the total was 147.

Kansas is coached by Bill Self. The Jayhawks lost to Michigan State in Chicago early in the season, and has road losses at West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Kansas has wins over UCLA and Vanderbilt in the Maui Invitational, home wins over Harvard, Oregon State, Montana, Baylor, Oklahoma in triple overtime, TCU, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Iowa State, plus road wins over San Diego State, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas. Kansas is 19-11 ATS and the total is 10-19-1 this season. The Jayhawks were 7 point favorites against Baylor and the total was 145.

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West Virginia is outscoring teams 80-66 this season. The Mountaineers are #31 in scoring and #47 in points allowed nationally. West Virginia is shooting 45.4% from the field and 32.9% from 3 point range. WVU makes 66.6% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. West Virginia averages 39.7 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.3. The Mountaineers are #32 in rebounding and #21 in rebounds allowed nationally. WVU averages 14.9 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 9.8 steals and 2.7 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.4 assists, 18 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 3.7 blocks per game.

Jaysean Paige averages 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Forward Devin Williams averages 12.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. Jevon Carter averages 12.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game. Daxter Miles, Jr. averages 9.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Tarik Phillip averages 9.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Jonathan Holton averages 9.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1 steal per game. Three other players get significant time in the rotation.

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Kansas is out scoring teams 82-68 this season. The Jayhawks are #14 in scoring nationally. Kansas is shooting 49.5% from the field and 42.7% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #6 in field goal percentage and #2 in three point shooting nationally. Kansas makes 70.2% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.6% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Jayhawks are #24 in field goal defense nationally. Kansas averages 37.9 rebounds a game and opponents average 30.2 per game. The Jayhawks average 15.9 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 4.1 blocks per game. Opponents average 11 assists, 13.5 turnovers, 6.2 steals and 3.4 blocks per game.

Forward Perry Ellis averages 16.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. Guard Wayne Selden, Jr. averages 13.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1 steal a game. Frank Mason III averages 13.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Devonte’ Graham averages 11.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Brannen Greene averages 6.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists. Six other players get significant time in the rotation.

West Virginia is 6-0 ATS overall and in Big 12 games, 5-0 after a win and a cover, 4-0 against teams with winning records, 4-1 in Saturday games, and 5-2 in neutral site games. The Mountaineers have covered four of the last five games against the Jayhawks and were the underdogs in each of those contests.

Kansas is 5-1 ATS in neutral site games, 10-3 overall, 9-3 after a straight up win and against Big 12 teams, and against teams with winning records.

Each team won by double digits at home, but I think this game will be a lot closer. The West Virginia press will harass the Jayhawks, but I think Kansas finds a way to win in the end.

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