Two Big 12 Openers, Two Game Totals Picks For Friday

Jay Pryce

Friday, December 29, 2017 1:26 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 1:26 PM UTC

Look to bet ‘over’ the game total in this pair of Big 12 openers on Friday when No. 7 West Virginia travels to Oklahoma State and No. 18 Baylor squares off with No. 22 Texas Tech. Here’s why.

No. 7 West Virginia (-3) vs Oklahoma State

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Free NCAAB Pick: Over 151.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

This is the fifth year in a row West Virginia (11-1 SU, 3-5 ATS) will kick off Big 12 play with two true road games, as it squares off against Oklahoma State (10-2 SU, 4-5 ATS) in Stillwater Friday. A test at Kansas State comes Monday. The Mountaineers, which have posted three consecutive seasons with 25 wins or more and enjoy an 11-game run headed into this opener, are 7-1 SU overall in the aforementioned scenario.

Not only is West Virginia good at kick starting Big 12 play on the road, it also excels at whipping up on unranked conference opponents. It is 20-13 SU and 19-14 ATS on the road since joining the Big 12 in this spot, tipping off at a pick ‘em on average on the college basketball oddsboard. All but two losses have come in 15 games catching a bucket or more in the betting market. The Mountaineers are 16-2 SU and 12-6 ATS otherwise. Oddsmakers opened this game -3 in the visitor’s favor.

The Cowboys play a high-pressure defensive attack similar to West Virginia under first-year head coach Mike Boynton. Oklahoma State excels at filling passing lanes and runs a litany of half-court traps to force bad shots and giveaways. They’ve accrued 19-plus turnovers in five of their last six contests and average 6.4 more shots on average than their opponents. West Virginia, meanwhile, is adept at full-court pressing. Both teams rank in the top 30 nationally in forced turnovers and opponent turnover percentage.

When the Mountaineers play road conference contests against turnover-forcing defenses under head coach Bob Huggins, they tend to be high-scoring affairs. The ‘over’ is 9-2 when facing off versus opponents generating more than 14.5 takeaways per game. A 153.9 final tally easily surpasses a 143.5 total by 10.5 points per game in this spot. Each team gets plenty of second-chance opportunities. A slew of fouls also leads to clock stoppages and a ton of free throws; 38 freebies from the charity strip occur under these conditions. West Virginia wins 80-76 with the best bet on the ‘over’ 151.5 points.

No. 18 Baylor vs No. 22 Texas Tech (-6)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Over 137Best Line Offered: at Heritage

Baylor (10-2 SU, 3-2 ATS) head coach Scott Drew has assembled another defensive force in Waco. The Bears rank 28th in the country in adjusted efficiency according to KenPom, yielding just 66.2 points per game on 39.8 percent shooting. The unit, long, quick, and relentless, blends man-to-man with an amorphous match-up zone depending on the situation, and protects the rim as good as any team in the nation. Expect it to matchup well against Texas Tech’s motion offense (11-1 SU, 5-3 ATS).

The Red Raiders own a stifling defense of their own, ranking sixth in adjusted efficiency nationally. Where head coach Chris Beard has an edge over Drew is depth. Baylor is thin with just eight scholarship players on the roster. A significant injury or foul trouble can send this bunch in a tailspin. Texas Tech, meanwhile, uses a 10-player rotation with each averaging more than 13 minutes per game. All can produce as well, with nine putting up double figures in scoring in a contest. The Red Raiders will want to open this game up and tire out the Bears starters. Expect intense defensive pressure and plenty of counter attacks.

This speed-up-the-Bears tactic is not new among Big 12 teams with Drew often relying on a core group of starters. Since 2006, when Baylor takes to the road in conference play as an underdog, the ‘over’ is 48-21-1 overall. A 150.1 combined score sails 8.1 points over a 142.0 average total, cashing in all but two seasons overall. Look for the Red Raiders to quicken this one strategically, but the Bears keep it close with the student section depleted due to Holiday break. Pick ‘over’ 137.

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