West Virginia to Punch Sweet 16 Ticket at Notre Dame's Expense

west virginia basketball

Jason Lake

Friday, March 17, 2017 12:04 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 17, 2017 12:04 AM UTC

They were lousy college basketball picks in the NCAA Tournament's first round, but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and West Virginia Mountaineers, former Big East foes, will meet Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16.

No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 West Virginia

West Region, Buffalo, Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET


Those were two of the easiest college basketball picks we’ve ever made here at the home office. The Princeton Tigers (+6.5 on the closing line) were an obvious choice against the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Thursday’s opening-round March Madness action; Princeton nearly won the game straight-up with a late 3-pointer before losing 60-58. And the Bucknell Bison (+13.5) played a strong second half to cover handily in their 86-80 loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers. Trust the process!

So what do we do now that those two at-large teams and former Big East foes are playing each other Saturday in the West Region's second round? We’re going to use the same process, leaning on statistical analysis like the pros do, but will we find the same value on the NCAAB odds board now that juicy underdogs like Princeton and Bucknell are out of the picture?

Mountain Mama

Yes, yes we will. The Mountaineers (27-8 SU, 13-16-1 ATS) appear to be undervalued in this situation after playing some strong basketball in the Big 12. They’ve opened as 3-point favorites against Notre Dame (26-9 SU, 18-10-1 ATS), but FiveThirtyEight thinks WVU would win this game 69 percent of the time. That’s like a 5.5-point spread according to Wizard of Odds, maybe even 6.

West Virginia Basketball. Tougher than a long weekend at your in-laws.

— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 16, 2017

Maybe that’s too generous. Checking in with Ken Pomeroy’s partially-updated stats, he has West Virginia rated about 5.5 points better than Notre Dame per 100 possessions, but that should still work out to around 4 points on Saturday. Let’s roll with the Mountaineers, and may the sphere be with you.

NCAAB Free Pick: WVU -3Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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