Tournament basketball action is so, so damn good. We have seen so much fantastic hoops action already with a major stretch run starting today and tonight. This evening we focus in on the Big 12. West Virginia and Kansas State begin their run for the automatic bid from the 12. Kansas State is a 1.5-point favorite and the total is 137.5.
The Mountaineers have had a lot of strong efforts and against good teams in a deep league but for one reason or another in each of those games they have fizzled late. They lost by single digits to Texas Tech twice, battled until the final eight minutes against vastly superior Kansas, and dropped a 10-point halftime lead to Iowa State in Ames just to name a handful. Defensively they are exactly what you’d expect from Bob Huggins coached team. They press and force turnovers (15.4 per game) and use that for easy points and they need to. They can’t shoot worth a damn. Only 42 teams are shooting worse than them and are in the bottom-100 in points per game.
Good news follows for them: there isn’t much separating them and Kansas State statistically. Kansas State is half-a-point better at scoring and half-a-percentage point better at shooting. They are a tough team too that has rarely been outclassed in a game inside the Big 12 but much like West Virginia, hasn’t had the “it” to get over the hump more often. Tonight they matchup pretty well with West Virginia, a team they have split with this season. I love the fact that Kansas State protects the ball so well. They only turn the ball over 11.4 times per game which is 15th amongst major conference participants.
We will have to see if Kansas State can limit the Mountaineers best pure scorer, Taz Sherman. He’s dropping 18.3 points per game and he scored 14 and 23 in the two game against the Wildcats this year. Odd thing is, West Virginia won the game he scored 14 and lost the one he tallied 23. Want to hear another zany one? Nijel Pack, Kansas State’s leading scorer put in 13 in their win against West Virginia and 20 in their loss to the ‘neers back in early January. Wild.
I am backing Kansas State tonight with the moneyline play (-120). It’s worth a dime of juice in such a close matchup and of course in tournament play in which stupid things happen. I’ll also drop some on the OVER 137.5. Kansas State games have gone OVER nine times in their last ten games and the lone under during that stretch was a month ago. Let’s double-dip.