No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Preview

Saturday, December 12, 2020, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, West Virginia, noon ET

Sooners at Mountaineers Betting Preview: Sooners  (-12.5), Mountaineers (+12.5)

Sooners

No. 11 Oklahoma was supposed to have a bye this week, but two weeks ago, COVID-19 issues with the Sooners (7-2, 6-2 Big 12) forced their game against the Mountaineers to be postponed. The teams will give it another try Saturday.

Coming off a 27-14 win over Baylor that clinched a spot in the Big 12 title game, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said the focus is getting his team back in a rhythm following their shutdown two weeks ago.

Against Baylor, the Sooners’ defense played well but the offense was uncharacteristically sluggish.

“We’ve had so many bye weeks,” Riley said. “Having the facilities shut down that long in the middle of the season was a different deal. Just for us to play the quality of ball and to make the improvements that we need to make, we need to play.”

There has been plenty of offense in this series. With the exception of a 16-7 win in 2013, the Sooners have scored at least 44 points in each of those meetings and the Mountaineers have averaged better than 30 points.

The Sooners have averaged over 46 points a game during their six-game winning streak with two games in the 60s and another in the 50s.

Spender Rattler has done most of the damage for the Sooners. He has averaged passing for 279.1 yards a game with 24 touchdowns against only five interceptions. The Sooners have rushed for an average of 158.0 yards a game.

Mountaineers

West Virginia is coming off a 42-6 loss to Iowa State, the first blowout defeat of the season for the Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12).

“Really this week it’s about us getting back on track and playing football like we have in the previous eight games,” Mountaineers coach Neal Brown said.

West Virginia has yet to lose a home game this year, winning all five outings at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Both teams figure to be well-prepared for each other. The Sooners had a half week of preparation in late November before the originally scheduled game was wiped out on the Wednesday before the game.

The Mountaineers had even more time, with a bye week scheduled a week before the Nov. 28 game with the Sooners.

“They’re probably tired of working on Oklahoma,” Riley said.

Even coming off last week’s blowout, Mountaineers linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo said his team was more confident this season.

“This year, I feel that we have established an identity,” Chandler-Semedo said. “We know exactly what we are capable of doing. We have seen the film. They have seen us. Best on best, at the end of the day that’s what it is.”

Sooners at Mountaineers Betting Pick for December 12, 2020

The Sooners lead the series with the Mountaineers 10-0 and with four wins in Morgantown. Last year the Sooners beat the Mountaineers 52-14 but Jalen Hurts, who passed for 316 yards and rushed for 75 in that game, is no longer around. Austin Kendall, who served as OU’s backup quarterback in 2017 and ’18, passed for two touchdowns for the Mountaineers against the Sooners last year. 

Sooners at Mountaineers Betting Pick:

Sooners 31, Mountaineers 17

Sooners at Mountaineers Best Bet for December 12, 2020

The Sooners’ 27-14 win over Baylor last week marked the first time they had failed to get into at least the 30s in nine games this season. They posted a pair of 62-point games in their current six-game winning streak. With West Virginia leading the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense and Oklahoma second in total defense and third in scoring, this game could be a low scoring affair..

Sooners at Mountaineers Best Bet: UNDER 58.5

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Preview

Friday, November 27, 2020, Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 1:30 p.m. ET

Western Kentucky vs. West Virginia Betting Preview: West Kentucky (no line as of 8:30 A.M. Eastern), West Virginia (no line as of 8:30 A.M. Eastern)

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Betting Preview

The Hilltoppers (2-0) find themselves bidding to win their first in-season tournament since 2001, and they weren’t even supposed to be involved in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic at all. Western Kentucky, which replaced Creighton after the Bluejays dropped out due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests, posted six-point wins over Northern Iowa and Memphis to advance to the championship game.

Charles Bassey had 11 points and eight rebounds in the 93-87 victory over Northern Iowa on Wednesday and added 21 and 14, respectively, in a 75-69 triumph over Memphis the following day. The junior center previously has starred against West Virginia, collecting 13 points and 15 boards in Western Kentucky’s 63-57 victory in the semifinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational in 2018.

Taveion Hollingsworth, who also had 13 points in that clash versus the Mountaineers, erupted for 26 points Wednesday in the Hilltoppers’ victory over the Panthers. The senior guard made 10 of 13 foul shots in that encounter for Western Kentucky, which is 46 of 55 from the charity stripe this season.

West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Preview

The 15th-ranked Mountaineers (2-0) haven’t been shy on the interior as they have advanced to the championship game of the tournament. Junior forward Derek Culver recorded his 17th career double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds while Oscar Tshiebwe added 11 and 16, respectively, in West Virginia’s 78-66 win over Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday.

Culver, who also had 14 boards in the Mountaineers’ 79-71 victory over South Dakota State on Wednesday, averaged 8.6 rebounds last season to trail only Tshiebwe (9.3) on the team. Tshiebwe, a sophomore forward, had just seven points and three rebounds while dealing with foul trouble in the season opener.

Sean McNeil has posted consecutive 16-point outings for West Virginia. The junior guard, however, is 11-for-31 from the field, including 6-for-18 from 3-point range.

Hilltoppers vs. Mountaineers Betting Prediction

Although victorious on Thursday, West Virginia was far from perfect as it committed 21 turnovers after making just three in its season opener. The Mountaineers, however, can overcome those blemishes with a determined effort on the glass.

Bob Huggins’ charges will do precisely that to walk away with win on Friday and gain momentum entering their Wednesday against top-ranked Gonzaga.

Western Kentucky vs. West Virginia Betting Pick:

West Virginia 72, Western Kentucky 64

Hilltoppers vs. Mountaineers Best Bet

West Virginia has struggled to find its touch in its first two games, shooting 40 percent from the field (56 of 140) and 29.2 percent (14 of 48) from 3-point range. Another tough battle is on tap on Friday, with the under likely being the best bet.

Western Kentucky vs. West Virginia Best Bet: UNDER point total (no line yet)

–Field Level Media

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. VCU Rams Betting Preview

Thursday, November 26, 2020, Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, S.D., 2:30 p.m. ET

West Virginia vs. VCU Betting Preview: (No Lines as of 5 A.M. Eastern)

West Virginia Mountaineers

No. 15 West Virginia got off to a solid start in its season opener Wednesday night with a 79-71 win over South Dakota State in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic. The Mountaineers will try to keep the positive momentum going when they turn around on short rest to face VCU.

Miles McBride hopes to lead West Virginia for the second day in a row. The sophomore was the star of Wednesday’s win, scoring a career-high 23 points to help the Mountaineers avoid an upset against a talented team that was playing in its home state.

Junior Sean McNeil finished with a career-high 16 points and Taz Sherman drained four 3-pointers as part of a 14-point performance off the bench for the Mountaineers. Both players will look to stay hot in their second game in as many days.

VCU Rams

VCU is feeling good after posting a resounding 85-69 win over Utah State on Wednesday night in its first game of the season. Now, the Rams will see face a higher-level opponent when they square off with a nationally ranked foe.

Reigning Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection Nah’Shon Hyland will try to lead the way. He made five 3-pointers on Wednesday en route to a 23-point effort that marked the highest-scoring total of his career.

VCU stormed back from a seven-point deficit with less than 11 minutes to go, outscoring Utah State 29-6 the rest of the way. The Rams have nothing to lose as they try to knock off legendary coach Bob Huggins and his Mountaineers squad.

West Virginia vs. VCU Rams Betting Prediction

VCU is coming off an emotional comeback win, and it is eager to prove itself against highly regarded West Virginia. But it will be hard, in terms of talent, for VCU to keep up for a full 40 minutes of action.

West Virginia’s opening victory was not particularly stylish, but the Mountaineers fended off an energized South Dakota State team playing close to home. Look for the Mountaineers to post a louder victory this time around, particularly after a closer-than-expected opening game woke up the roster.

West Virginia vs. VCU Betting Pick:

West Virginia 76, VCU 64

West Virginia vs, VCU Best Bet

It’s early in the season, and neither team knows the opponent particularly well. That means anything could happen, although it is hard to see West Virginia struggling to take command against a team that has significantly less talent on paper. Expect a high-scoring affair and take the over for anything posting at 135.5 and below

–Field Level Media

Big 12 College Basketball 2020/21 Preview

Before the 2019/20 college basketball season was canceled and March Madness was called off, the Big 12 was in a position to potentially have two #1 seeds in Baylor and Kansas and were considered as the conference most likely to field the eventual National Champion.

The conference is possibly even better this season.

The Big 12 currently features a whopping five teams in the Kenpom Top 10, with Baylor and Kansas once again considered strong favorites at a run at a spot in the Final Four. 

Top to bottom, there may not be a better conference in college basketball this season.  Here’s how the Big 12 shakes out and what you need to know about each school before the season begins.   

The Contenders

#2 Baylor (+165 to Win Big 12)

Before the cancellation of the 2019/20 season, the Baylor Bears were flying high and breaking a multitude of school records including a 23-game winning streak to propel them to the first #1 overall ranking in school history.

The Bears started to show some chinks in the armor at the end of the season, however, as they would drop three of their last five games to end the season including road losses to TCU and West Virginia.

Fortunately for Baylor supporters, the bulk of last season’s team is back including the top three scorers on the team in Wooden Award candidate Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell.  The Bears also return Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist Mark Vital, giving the Bears one of the more balanced teams in the nation.

While last season’s team had the potential to be special, this could be Scott Drew’s best group yet.  You will be hard-pressed to find a team in the country, much less the Big 12, that can match Baylor’s talent, depth, and experience the Bears will have on the floor at any given time.  They will be a team to watch all season long and have a real chance to replicate the success they had a season ago.  

#6 Kansas (+170 to Win Big 12)

While Baylor was enjoying the best season in school history, we’d be remiss not to mention that heading into the fateful Selection Sunday that never happened, Kansas was in the middle of playing some of its best basketball of the Bill Self era and was considered the prohibitive favorite to cut the nets down in Atlanta this past spring.

Before COVID wiped away March Madness, Kansas had emerged from a chaotic regular season as the best team in college basketball.  This was in large part due to the phenomenal inside-outside game from Devin Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. 

Both of these players have since departed to the next chapter of their careers in the NBA and now Bill Self and the Jayhawks are put in the rare spot of having a mini-reboot to their roster.

Of course, Kansas rebooting is far different than the rebooting that most college basketball programs do, and they will still have a roster chock-full of talent, but there will be a setback until the Jayhawks can figure out how to replace the production they just lost.

One way the Jayhawks plan to reload this season will come by playing a three-guard lineup, and on occasion even going with four-guard lineups on the floor.  Senior Marcus Garrett and junior Ochai Agbaji will be the focal point of the Kansas offense with five-star recruit Bryce Thompson also likely to log a lot of playing time for Self’s Jayhawks.

Self will look to replace the vacancy of Azubuike with forwards Silvio de Sousa and David McCormack.  You may recall hearing Silvio de Sousa’s name when it looked like he may channel his inner WWE and hit someone with a stool during a brawl with rival Kansas State last season. While that’s certainly one way to enforce the paint, Self will likely try to get de Sousa to try a more conventional method this season.

All in all, Kansas is going to still be a dangerous opponent to deal with.  We will find out a lot about where the team currently is when they play their season opener against powerhouse Gonzaga on November 26, but assuming we have a 2021 NCAA Tournament this season, Kansas figures to be one of the top seeds in the dance when it’s all said and done.  

The Dangerous Dark Horses

#15 West Virginia (+525 to Win Big 12)

The Mountaineers began the 2019/20 season like they were shot out of a cannon as Bob Huggins’ squad opened the season with an 11-1 record capped off by a 67-59 win over then #2 ranked Ohio State.

Then conference play began.

West Virginia would start conference play with a 6-3 record before the wheels would come off in February as the Mountaineers would go 1-6 that month and put themselves back in the bubble conversation before handing then 4th ranked Baylor a 12-point loss in the last game of the season that would have likely sealed their at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.

Now Huggins is back at it again with a roster he has said is his best since the 2010 West Virginia Final Four team.  He may not be wrong in that assessment.

While there are legitimate concerns about the Mountaineers’ offense and whether or not they can put up enough points to make a long run in March, there are no such concerns about West Virginia’s defense.  The Mountaineers return the tandem of Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver, giving Huggins two of the best rim protectors in the entire country.

Offensively, Huggins’ Eers play about in the manner that you’d expect a Bob Huggins team to look – ugly.  WVU was atrocious shooting the ball a season ago, going 26% from three-point range and an abysmal 62.9% from the free-throw line.  Both ranked dead last in the conference.   

If West Virginia is to be a better offensive team this season it will likely depend on guard Miles McBride emerging amongst a log jam of guards on the roster.  The sophomore guard is the teams’ best shooter by a significant margin, and there just aren’t a whole lot of shooters on this team.  The WVU defense is the real deal, however, and they could very well propel the Mountaineers from a dangerous Top 15 caliber team to a legitimate Final Four contender if they just get a little better offensive output this season.

#14 Texas Tech (+600 to Win Big 12)

Kevin Beard has quietly turned Lubbock, Texas into a fervent college basketball community. 

Despite losing their top two scorers (Jahmi’us Ramsey and Davide Moretti) from last season’s team, Texas Tech had a home run of an offseason as they added three of the best transfers available in the transfer portal with Mac McClung (Georgetown), Marcus Santos-Silva (VCU), and Jamarius Burton (Wichita State) all coming over to join the Red Raiders.

Beard also pulled in a pair of top-50 recruits in Nimari Burnett and Micah Peavy, giving Texas Tech one of the deepest rosters in the Big 12.

Among the players returning to Lubbock this season, Beard will likely lean on the services of junior guard Kyler Edwards (11.4 ppg) the most as he looks to repair the Red Raiders backcourt.

This is a team that could start out of the gates somewhat slow before really picking up momentum as conference play gets going.  On paper, they are as deep as any in the country, if Beard can get the talent to gel this is another sleeper candidate for the Final Four.

#19 Texas (+690 to Win Big 12)

While schools like Baylor were surely yelling profanity at the sky when COVID-19 swept over the United States and canceled the best season in school history, Shaka Smart’s job security got a much-needed boost when the entire college sports landscape drastically changed.  Suddenly the Longhorns couldn’t afford to pay a lofty buyout to Shaka Smart and they had to essentially run it back when it looked like Smart was running out of time just weeks before.

This is the make or break year in Austin for the Shaka Smart era, as the once highly coveted basketball coach has now gone five seasons without an NCAA Tournament victory, and has missed the tourney entirely in three of the last four seasons since Smart was named the Texas head coach in 2015.

Since taking over in Austin, Smart is a disappointing 90-81 overall.  Far from the expectations of competing for Big 12 championships year in and year out.  However, if there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the 43-year-old coach it’s that this could be the best Longhorns team Smart has had yet.

The Longhorns feature a very experienced backcourt with juniors Courtney Ramey (10.9 ppg), Andrew Jones (11.5 ppg), and senior Matt Coleman (12.7 ppg).   In the Texas frontcourt, Smart has the luxury of having five players above 6-9, including five-star recruit McDonald’s All-American Greg Brown (#9 overall). 

Brown’s addition could essentially save Shaka Smart’s job, as the highly touted recruit averaged a double-double during all four seasons in high school and is considered a future NBA lottery pick.  

Collectively, this roster is arguably the most talented in the conference, though you may hear from some residents in Lubbock who disagree. 

Nonetheless, this is it for Shaka Smart.  If he can’t get this team over the hump, he will likely be in the market for a new job next spring, but if he can get this team over the hump look out for the Longhorns.

Middle of the Pack

Oklahoma State (+2000 to Win Big 12)

Oklahoma State will draw a lot of attention if for no other reason than to watch Cade Cunningham, the presumptive #1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The Cowboys will not be eligible for the 2021 NCAA Tournament after receiving a one-year postseason ban from the NCAA for their involvement in the Lamont Evans FBI saga, meaning we will not get to see the top recruit in the land play in March, but that doesn’t mean Oklahoma State can’t be a fun team to pay attention to throughout the regular season.

Joining Cunningham in the backcourt for the Cowboys will be junior Isaac Likekele (10.9 ppg) and Cal Baptist grad transfer Ferron Flavors Jr. (13.5 ppg).  Beyond these two guards, this is an extremely young Oklahoma State team with only one other upperclassman on the roster in junior walk-on Dee Mitchell.

If Oklahoma State’s appeal is successful and their postseason ban is overturned, the Cowboys merit paying close attention to, however, if the appeal is lost and they are indeed banned from the NCAA Tournament this is still a team that should finish in the top half of the conference and could have a lot of value as an underdog in the matchups against the Big 12 heavyweights.

Oklahoma (+2000 to Win Big 12)

Lon Kruger has led the Sooners to NCAA Tournament berths in six of the last seven seasons, not including the 2019-20 campaign in which Oklahoma was heading for another at-large spot in the dance.

The Sooners lose leading scorer Kristian Doolittle from last year’s team but return their second and third-leading scorers with seniors Austin Reaves (14.7 ppg) and Brady Manek (14.4 ppg).

This iteration of Oklahoma basketball will look different than it has in recent years when Buddy Hield and Trae Young were dropping 35-foot jumpers all over helpless Big 12 defenders, but they will be a dangerous foe for the top dogs to encounter and should once again be in the mix for another 20-win season and subsequent at-large bid.

The Long Shots

Iowa State (+8000 to Win Big 12)
TCU (+10000 to win Big 12)
Kansas State (+30000 to win Big 12)

Let’s just say each of these schools are in for a long season in this loaded conference.  There are very clear “haves” and “have nots” in the Big 12, and these are the have nots for the 2020/21 season. 

Iowa State was a very poor team a season ago and lost their best player Tyrese Haliburton to the NBA Draft. That doesn’t appear like it’s about to change, and Steve Prohm could be on his way out of Ames as a result.

TCU loses their best player Desmond Bane (graduation) and ushers in a new era under Jamie Dixon.  Expect there to be a lot of growing pains and for the Horned Frogs to be a non-factor for much of the season.

Kansas State loses Xavier Sneed and Carter Diarra and returns no player that averaged more than seven points a game in 2019. Bruce Weber is another coach who can conceivably be on the ‘hot seat’ this season.

Outside of the occasional bet on one of these teams to cover a large point spread, just steer clear of these three schools as best as you can.

Big 12 Projected Order of Finish

  1. Baylor
  2. Texas Tech
  3. Kansas
  4. West Virginia
  5. Texas
  6. Oklahoma State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. TCU
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas State