Texas and West Virginia have taken different paths to fourth place in the Big Twelve. On Saturday, they’ll play in a game that could send both teams on a new trajectory. Let’s see their NCAAB odds.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Texas Longhorns
Saturday, February 20, 2021 – 3:00 PM ET at Frank Erwin Center
Texas and West Virginia are two of the best teams in the nation this basketball season, but both find themselves tied in the middle of a Big Twelve that is crowded with strong teams. Texas won, 72-70, at West Virginia in early January, moving to 10-1 on the season, 4-0 in the Big Twelve and pushing into the top five in the AP rankings.
Things have gone sideways since. The Longhorns lost four of the next five before rebounding with back-to-back wins over Kansas State and TCU. Texas is now 13-5, 7-4 and tied for fourth in the Big 12, a half game behind Oklahoma.
That game was also a turning point for West Virginia, who fell to 9-4 after losing to Texas, 2-3 in the Big 12. The losses were to No. 1 Gonzaga, top five Texas and Kansas, and Oklahoma, who also spent time in the top 10. So there was evidence that the Mountaineers were better than their early record.
Sure enough, West Virginia went on to win five of its next six before losing by one in double overtime to Oklahoma last time out.
Shots Are Falling
Bob Huggins coached teams are generally known for their defense, but it’s been West Virginia’s offense that has sparked the Mountaineers recent run.
After scoring in the 60s or 70s six of seven games, West Virginia found its stroke in the last week of January. Over the next six games, the Mountaineers scored in the 80s three times, the 90s twice and the 70s once.
Three-point shooting has been the key to the run. Over a five-game stretch during the last month, WVU hit 45-of-101 from three for a .446 percentage, nearly 100 points higher than the Mountaineers had been shooting up until that point.
It has been a long week for everyone who lives in Texas as a series of winter storms hit the state and caused widespread power outages.
Much of Austin was without water and electricity for parts of the week, which obviously impacted the players and coaches on the team as well. The team had to call off trips to Oklahoma and Iowa State in two of the rare postponements this season that weren’t COVID related. The team couldn’t gather in one place to practice until Thursday.
“I wasn’t really prepared for this,” coach Shaka Smart said. “I’m from Wisconsin; it snows all the time. But I’ve learned over the last few days, this is different.”
The decision on whether to even play the West Virginia game wasn’t made until Friday afternoon, but it now appears to be a go, although no fans will be in attendance.
Smart was concerned about his players’ conditioning levels after nearly a week shut in their rooms in the dark, not to mention the mental toll it may have taken.
It’s been a rough week for the Longhorns, but if ever there was a season to prepare a Texas team for a weather-related break, it’s this one.
The reasons may be different, but players across the nation this year are accustomed to being shut in their rooms, not allowed to leave. They know all about last-minute cancellations, late word that a game is on and long stretches of missed practice time.
If Iowa State or TCU or another team near the bottom of the Big Twelve were coming to town, the Longhorns may come out sluggish in their return to the court. But West Virginia, who is tied with the Horns for fourth and one spot behind them in the AP, should get the adrenaline pumping.
For your NCAAB picks, look for Texas to be able to play through heavy legs and help force a regression to the mean for West Virginia’s newfound outside shooting prowess. The Longhorns may feel the fatigue in the days following Saturday’s game, but that’s a concern for the next contest on the schedule.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.