Profitable Texas Tech & West Virginia Defensive Clash Worthy Of Your NCAA Basketball Picks

Jay Pryce

Saturday, January 23, 2016 1:34 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 1:34 PM UTC

Texas Tech's lack of depth may be exploited by the West Virginia's aggressive full-court press. Will the Red Raiders hang on? Don't miss who'll be in our NCAA basketball picks.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas Tech +4
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Texas Tech hosts No. 6 West Virginia at the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock on Saturday (12 p.m. ET). The Mountaineers have given the Red Raiders fits in recent years and the home team's lack of depth may be exploited by the visitor's aggressive full-court press. Let's break down the available NCAA basketball odds and choose a side to back for our Saturday's college basketball picks.


West Virginia (15-3 SU, 10-6 ATS)
Coach Bob Huggins' press defense is baffling opponents. Operating on nearly 40 percent of trips down the floor, the full-court scheme is forcing an astonishing 20 turnovers per game, creating 15 or more in all but two tilts this season. In fact, since Huggins employed the press prior to the start of 2014, the Mountaineers have forced 14 or more in every game as the betting favorite. The huge amount of takeaways has the defense ranked the second most efficient unit in the nation behind Louisville, yielding 88.1 points per 100 possessions. 

West Virginia is not necessarily an offensive powerhouse, though, ranking 61st in efficiency with 109.2 points per 100 possessions. Shooting 46.0 percent from the field, it struggles from behind the arc, making 5.7 threes on 18.9 attempts per contest. What allows the Mountaineers to operate crisply on the offensive end is, you guessed it, the press. It generates a whopping 15.1 extra scoring chances per game, nearly six more than any other team in college basketball (Wichita State is second with 9.4). West Virginia led the nation last season as well with 12.7 per contest.


Texas Tech (12-5 SU, 10-5 ATS)
The Red Raiders opened the season 11-1 in coach Tubby Smith's third year in charge. Following an upset win over Texas to tip off Big 12 play, Texas Tech dropped four in a row in conference before defeating TCU 76-69 as a slight 2.5-point favorite in Ft. Worth on Monday. 

The latest victory came at a cost, however. Starting center Norsene Odiase broke his foot late in game and is out for some time. Odiase, a physical back-to-the-basket center, has been the team’s only low-post scoring threat, averaging 9 points to go along with 4.5 rebounds per game. Smith is now left with only three players on the active roster taller than 6-foot-8. How the team copes with his loss is anyone's guess. 

Texas Tech is anchored by two senior guards: Devaugntah Williams and Toddrick Gotcher. Both are big (6-foot-4 each), physical, and above-average ball handlers, which should help against the press. Versus teams surrendering 12.8 or more turnovers on the season, the NCAAB average, the Red Raiders are 6-3 ATS giving the ball away 11.8 times per contest. They haven't played a team as aggressive as Huggins' squad in 2015, but gifted TCU and Texas, two of the Big 12's more assertive teams, 11 a piece. In last season's matchup in Lubbock, Texas Tech coughed up 19 turnovers with Williams and Gotcher gifting six altogether.


Final Analysis 
Although it has eight players who average 15 minutes or more per game, the talent gap between the starting five and bench is wide for the Red Raiders. But they are a solid defensive team, entering the contest ranked 43rd in defensive efficiency nationally. West Virginia should win, but Texas Tech may be just stout enough to hold a not-so-dynamic Mountaineers' offense at bay for long stretches. We'll take the points with the Red Raiders here for our NCAA basketball picks.

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