Texas vs. West Virginia NCAA Basketball Picks: Take 'Under' In Defensive Big 12 Battle

Willie Bee

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 12:54 PM GMT

There has been a run of upsets in the Big 12 recently, and the Texas Longhorns hope to overcome the NCAA basketball odds Wednesday with an upset of their own at West Virginia.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 146
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

Welcome to the Big 12 where half a dozen teams are real threats to win the regular season title, those six currently packed within two games of each other heading into play Tuesday evening. A case could be made that four of those teams were expected to battle it out at the top, the other two sides being somewhat mild surprises.

It just so happens that pair will lace 'em up and go at it Wednesday night when the Texas Longhorns make their longest flight of the conference fixture with a visit to face the West Virginia Mountaineers. Texas could be arriving about the same time snow showers hit the area with the afternoon high never making it out of the mid-20s.

Mountaineers fans should make sure there's plenty of heat inside WVU Coliseum for the 7 PM (ET) tip on ESPNU. Backing WVU will require laying a dozen points, the total at Bookmaker presently sitting on 146.

December 1973 at the Far West Classic was the first time these two schools met on the hardwood, the Longhorns and Mountaineers only colliding twice more before West Virginia joined the Big 12 for the 2012-13 campaign. They've met seven times since, Texas owning a 6-4 overall record and 4-3 in conference play.

All four Longhorns wins came successively from 2014 to 2015, one of the matchups taking place in the '14 Big 12 Tournament. West Virginia put a halt to that streak in the most recent meeting last February in Morgantown, a 71-64 decision as 3½ point chalk. The favorite has covered the last four meetings, Texas 5-2 ATS in conference affairs with the 'under' also cashing five times on the NCAA basketball odds.

 

'Horns Missing Their Big Man On Glass
There have been some disappointments along the way, but all in all, Shaka Smart has to be pretty pleased with his first year running the show at Texas (11-6 straight up, 5-11 against the spread). The high points have been a couple of home wins over ranked teams, taking down then-No. 3 North Carolina in Austin about five weeks ago, 84-82, as 6½ point dogs and grabbing a 94-91 win over Iowa State last week in a game that was close to a pick 'em.

Smart would definitely like to see the Longhorns become a little more of a road threat, five of their six setbacks coming away from home. A victory tonight would help turn that around, not to mention throw the Big 12 into a huge mess and give the 'Horns a little confidence going into Kansas this Saturday to face the No. 3 Jayhawks.

He'd also like to turn back time and hold Cameron Ridley out of practice in late-December when the 6-9, 270 pound senior suffered a broken foot, leaving Texas without its leading rebounder through the regular season, if not longer. The Longhorns have been out-rebounded in their last three games, and five of the six played without Ridley.

 

WVU Coming Off Impressive Week
Bob Huggins and West Virginia (15-2 SU, 9-5 ATS) just about pulled off the weekly double when the Mountaineers beat Kansas last Tuesday and then came within a buzzer-beater of repeating the upset at Oklahoma on Saturday. The loss in Norman did snap an 8-game win streak, but didn't hurt in the rankings where West Virginia has assumed the 6/7 slots in the two conventional polls.

Shooting has been off recently for Huggy's 'Neers, the team only topping 40% once in the last three games, well below about a 47% average. Shooting free throws has been an issue all season, West Virginia's 66% success rate in the bottom fifth of the country.

My free NCAA basketball pick is behind some solid defense on both sides, so take the 'under' the this Big 12 clash.

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