For the second consecutive night on the Big 12 basketball betting card, we have a top 20 matchup as West Virginia takes aim at an upset in Kansas against the Jayhawks.
Thanks to a huge rally on Monday by Iowa State against Oklahoma, the Kansas Jayhawks have already won at least a share of the Big 12 title, their 11th straight regular season conference crown. One more win and No. 11 won't have to be shared, and the Jayhawks get a chance to do just that in front of their fans Tuesday night at home against the West Virginia Mountaineers.
The 9 PM (ET) telecast on ESPN2 went out with Kansas at -9 before that swiftly hopped up to 9½. The NCAA basketball odds total has yet to be released.
It's the 2nd-straight night for the tight race in the Big 12 to take center stage on the college basketball betting card. Kansas comes in ranked 9/10 in the polls that went out Monday, West Virginia posted at No. 20 in both but a bit banged up for this quick rematch from mid-February.
Rivalry Building Despite Short History
These teams had never met on a basketball court before becoming conference foes a couple of seasons ago when West Virginia moved into the Big 12. With only five games to its credit since, the rivalry has shown signs of rapidly heating up.
After dropping the first three meetings vs. Kansas, the Mountaineers took their second in a row from the Jayhawks just two short weeks ago up in Morgantown, 62-61. West Virginia was a small 1½ point pup at home, and got a game-high 20 from Juwan Staten to help hold off a late rally attempt by the Jayhawks.
That was WVU's third consecutive cover at home, Kansas also covering both of the games played so far in Lawrence. The Jayhawks had just enough to beat a -13 spread last February at Allen Fieldhouse, an 83-69 decision that barely hopped 'over' a 150 point total.
Staten Questionable For Mountaineers
West Virginia (22-7 straight up, 15-12 against the spread) needed every bit of the points Staten put up to beat Kansas 15 days ago, but the Mountaineers may not have the senior guard for Tuesday's tussle. Staten injured his left knee a couple of games back vs. Texas, causing him to miss last Saturday's contest at Baylor and leaving him questionable for the clash with the Jayhawks.
They are also likely to have to make a go of it without Gary Browne. The senior guard out of Puerto Rico had to leave the Baylor game just three minutes into the affair after injuring his left ankle, and is doubtful to suit up against Kansas.
Jayhawk Backers In Throes Of 4-Game Skid
It won't be much of a Senior Night in Lawrence on Tuesday with little-used guard Christian Garrett the only member of that fraternity on the Kansas (23-6 SU, 15-13 ATS) roster. That doesn't mean there won't be a boisterous crowd on hand for the Jayhawks' final home game of the season before closing things out Saturday in Norman against the Sooners.
The pro rock-chalk crowd is not going to have one of their key players to cheer on, however, with Cliff Alexander unlikely to play due to some eligibility concerns. The freshman forward missed Saturday's game against Texas after seeing his playing time and contributions diminish the three previous contests, and both the NCAA and Kansas are trying to resolve the matter quickly.
The uncertainty of Staten makes this one a tough call, but I believe the Jayhawks will be pumped up to claim the conference crown outright, so let's go with a free college basketball pick on the home team.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Kansas -9½ at 5Dimes