Both Baylor & West Virginia own 3-game winning streaks heading into their Big 12 showdown in Waco Saturday afternoon. Find out who we like in this spot as our NCAA Basketball pick.
Mountaineers-Bears Betting Odds
Most books we checked with opened their NCAA basketball betting odds on this game with Baylor favored by five points; some books dropped the Bears to -4.5 in the early action. Those thinking West Virginia might pull the upset here could get +180 on the moneyline at Heritage.
At 22-6 overall and 10-5 in conference play, just a game behind first-place Kansas, West Virginia is headed back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year absence.
The Mountaineers have won three games in a row, after topping Texas Tuesday 71-64. West Virginia led that game throughout, let the 'Horns get within three points with 30 seconds to go, but hung on for the victory and the cover at -4.
The Mountaineers only shot 42 percent from the floor Tuesday, and allowed Texas to shoot 53 percent, but they hit 20 of their 23 free-throws and committed just eight turnovers, while the Longhorns committed 16.
Last Saturday West Virginia won at Oklahoma State 73-63, and just before that the Mountaineers upset Kansas 62-61 on a hoop in the waning seconds. At the moment West Virginia is playing some pretty good ball.
Baylor just pulled a nice little upset of its own Wednesday night, knocking off Iowa State in Ames 79-70 as a six-point underdog. The Bears trailed that game by seven points with about eight minutes to go, then got hot from the outside, using a 19-4 run to take over. On the night Baylor shot 46 percent from the field, and hit 14 of 26 three-point attempts, including six in a row during that late surge.
We have our doubts as to whether the Bears can put on another shooting performance like that again so soon.
Last Saturday Baylor bombed Kansas State 69-42, and just before that the Bears won at Texas Tech 54-49.
At 21-7 overall and 9-6 in the Big 12 Baylor is two games out of first, but also headed back to the Dance, after reaching the second weekend of the tournament last year.
Mountaineers-Bears Recent History
Baylor stunned West Virginia in the first meeting between these teams this season three weeks ago in Morgantown 87-69. The Bears busted out to a 23-3 lead and never let the Mountaineers get any closer than 14 points after that, cruising to the victory as six-point underdogs.
Baylor shot 55 percent from the floor that day, while West Virginia shot just 36 percent. Also, that game played OVER its total of 140 thanks in part to considerable garbage time.
Our guess is Saturday's meeting might be a little closer, with less garbage time.
Last year these teams split two games, each winning as underdogs on the others' home court. In fact, going back to 2013, the visiting team has won and covered the last four meetings in this series.
By the Numbers
Statistically speaking, West Virginia kinda stinks. The Mountaineers are shooting just 41 percent from the floor this season, 31 percent from 3-point range and 66 percent from the FT line. They're also allowing opponents to shoot 46.5 percent from the floor. Still, they've won their last three games because they've allowed just 64, 63 and 61 points.
Baylor is shooting 43 percent from the floor, 38 percent from long range and 66 percent from the line, while holding foes to 39.5 percent FG shooting.
Mountaineers-Bears Betting Trends
West Virginia is 10-10 on the totals this season, as Mountaineers games have averaged 140 points.
Baylor is 11-10 on the totals, as Bears games have averaged 129 points.
Mountaineers-Bears Free Pick
Baylor just pulled an upset at Iowa State, but college basketball is a funny game, and it wouldn't surprise us if the Bears fell upset victim Saturday. Baylor won't make 14 threes today, or six in a row. West Virginia, meanwhile, is plugging away, like a true Huggy team, and style points don't matter, just W's. And while we don't usually put much credence in the “revenge” factor, we get the feeling that's how today's game might play out. So we'll take the underdog in this spot, to win outright as our free college basketball pick.
NCAA BAsketball Pick: Take West Virginia Mountaineers Moneyline at 5Dimes