Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Expecting Low Scores In West Virginia & Oklahoma Game

Jay Pryce

Saturday, January 16, 2016 12:53 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 12:53 PM UTC

The Mountaineers and Sooners square off in Norman on Satruday afternoon (4 p.m. ET). Can West Virginia knock off its second Big 12 powerhouse in row as our NCAA basketball pick?

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 156.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


West Virginia (15-1 SU, 9-5 ATS)
Coach Bob Huggins' press defense, a new wrinkle he installed prior to last season, is wreaking havoc on opponents. Just ask Kansas. The AP’s No. 1 fell to the Mountaineers 74-63 in Morgantown on Tuesday, committing a sloppy 22 turnovers in the face of pressure. The aggressive unit, which presses nearly 40 percent of trips down the court, sports the second best figure in defensive efficiency (Valparaiso is first) allowing 89.4 points per 100 possessions per Ken Pomeroy. Huggins’ squad leads the nation in steals (11.4), forced turnovers (20.9), and fewest three-pointers per game (4.5).

West Virginia is not necessarily an offensive powerhouse, though it ranks 28th in efficiency with 112.8 points. Shooting 47.0 percent from the field, it struggles from behind the arc, making 5.9 threes on 19 attempts per contest. What allows the Mountaineers to operate crisply on the offensive end is, you guessed it, the press. It generates a whopping 16.2 extra scoring chances per game, nearly seven more than any other team in college basketball (Wichita State average 9.5). West Virginia led the nation last season as well with 12.7 per contest.


Oklahoma (15-1 SU, 7-6 ATS)
Oklahoma plays at a quick pace and is quite efficient on both ends of the court, scoring 118.5 points and allowing just 92.5 per 100 possessions. Its 87.3 points per game is second most in the nation behind North Carolina.

The Sooners are 2-2 SU and ATS against West Virginia under Lon Kruger, winning and covering each in Norman. Last season they were able to weather the storm at Lloyd Noble Center, gifting West Virginia with only 13 turnovers. Shooting an astonishing 61 percent form the field, Oklahoma rolled to a 71-52 victory as a 5.5-point favorite.

Often times, to beat a press team, and more importantly for bettors covering the spread, one either has to shoots light or give it a little dose of their own medicine by forcing many turnovers. Possession is key for press squads on both sides of half court. West Virginia, for example, averages 14.3 turnovers per game. Since last season, when is commit less than this, Huggins’ men are 19-5 ATS (27-4 SU) versus 7-11 against the NCAA basketball odds (16-7 SU). Oklahoma forces a paltry 11.3 turnovers per game, picking up 14 or more in a contest twice all season. 


Final Analysis
Oklahoma will likely have to get behind the press to find some easy buckets to find and maintain a lead on West Virginia. Outside of sophomore F Khadeem Lattin, the entire OU starting lineup is upperclassmen and have game time against the Mountaineers' aggressive scheme. Expect them to handle the pressure. West Virginia is just 2-7 ATS since last season as a dog of 3 points or more, and I'm reluctant to lay 6 points in this spot. Huggins' group may not have the offensive weapons to hang in a hostile environment. The Sooners' big, athletic front court will force West Virginia to take a slew of inefficient perimeter shots. The value here may be in the UNDER 156.5 as your NCAA basketball pick. That's where my money is going.

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