Kentucky's Length Keeps Game Close in Morgantown

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, January 27, 2018 3:59 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 3:59 PM UTC

Two programs meet in a game that has huge NCAA Tournament seeding implications on national television on Saturday, and our NCAA handicapper has his opinion on how to play the odds offered.

Kentucky Wildcats vs West Virginia Mountaineers

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Free NCAAB Pick: Kentucky +8Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

In the marquee Big 12 vs. SEC matchup of the day, well probably the best matchup regardless of conference, the Kentucky Wildcats visit the West Virginia Mountaineers in a nationally televised game on ESPN on Saturday. Both teams come in desperately looking for a win and both have lost two of three coming into Saturday SU and ATS. With West Virginia ranked 7th in the AP poll and at home for this game, the odds board have the Mountaineers listed as 8-point favorites in early lines. The O/U total has opened at 149 at books such as 5Dimes.

Kentucky has been preparing all week for the physical nature of West Virginia’s defense at home, with special practices including swarming the court with 8 to 10 team managers at a time to mimic West Virginia pressure. I like the creativity here, and the seriousness in preparation, even though the coach won’t admit that it is a must-win game:

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We treat every game the same: We want to win them all.

— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) January 26, 2018

Complete bullshit, of course. Kentucky knows that a win in this game could boost their seeding in the NCAA tournament at least one seed or more, and the same with West Virginia. Coming into this game unranked just puts a bigger chip on their shoulder.

West Virginia is not taking this game lightly either with ESPN College Gameday being on hand for the festivities. They also have a special t-shirt plan for the game:

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It's going to be a fun day of @WVUhoops Saturday

✅ College GameDay
✅ Stripe the Coliseum
✅ Sold out crowd
✅ 14,000 LED batons
✅ Special national anthem
✅ Christian & Scooby at halftime

— WVU Sports (@WVUSports) January 26, 2018

That may not affect what will happen on the court however, where the Mountaineers hold a significant turnover percentage this season over Kentucky. In overall rankings Kentucky’s offense holds a turnover percentage ranked 231st against the 2nd ranked West Virginia turnover defense. On the other hand, the West Virginia offense holds a turnover offense ranked 43rd against a Kentucky turnover defense ranked 260th. This is the main advantage that West Virginia holds over most teams, not just Kentucky.

There is only one metric that we can discount these turnover statistics with, and that is length, which Kentucky’s roster has in spades over West Virginia. Kentucky is ranked 22nd in the country in effective height in KenPom’s metric, with the Mountaineer’s just average. The Wildcats should have a significant height advantage over 3 players in West Virginia’s lineup at every point in this game. I believe this is where the value lies in looking at this line, so I will be taking the points and Kentucky as my Saturday NCAAB Pick. In this very anticipated matchup I will also enjoy having points in my pocket come tip-off as well.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 25-20, +3.70 Units

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