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Kansas State

at

West Virginia

College Basketball Pick

2/11/17

Nothing has been predictable for either of these teams this season and that will likely continue for the next month. West Virginia won at Virginia in non-conference play, but also inexplicably lost to Temple. In the Big 12, the Mountaineers blew out league-leaders Kansas and Baylor, but lost at home to Oklahoma State last weekend after dominating them on the road. It's been similar for Kansas State, although with more losing involved. The Wildcats got a surprising win at Baylor last weekend, but had lost at home to TCU in the game prior.

When these teams first met, that unpredictability was at the forefront with West Virginia getting out to an early 38-26 lead only to give it away. With about 10 minutes to go in the game, Kansas State had suddenly turned that deficit into a 64-53 lead for themselves that they wouldn't give up in a 79-75 win. The biggest thing in that game was that West Virginia turned the ball over 23 times, seven more than K State. In the end, the Mountaineers turned the ball over and didn't shoot it well enough to win on the road. But in Morgantown, as long as West Virginia plays up to its ability, this could easily turn into a double-digit win. They had a double-digit lead, but couldn't pull it off in that first game because of turnovers. And the fact that West Virginia had trouble shooting was a surprise as Kansas State has the worst effective FG% defense in the Big 12.

Of course, that all depends on what K State team shows up. Their defense dominated Baylor only a week ago in a 56-54 win. They won with a balanced attack in the first meeting with all five starters scoring at least 13 points. On the road, the key for the Wildcats will be limiting turnovers, meaning not more than the 16 they had last game. The thing that helps is that they have multiple ball handlers from Kamau Stokes to small forward Wesley Iwundu. That won't completely limit turnovers, but it helps against the WVU press.

The important thing for West Virginia is that they just get more production from role players like Nathan Adrian and Esa Ahmad, the two of which combined for just 12 points in the first game. Guards Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles and Tarik Phillip will all get their points, whether from three balls or from creating turnovers. But in order for this not to be another close game, the Mountaineers will need more production from their bigs. Kansas State has been using DJ Johnson in the paint and exploiting matchups with Dean Wade a lot more in recent games and that will be the case here. If Ahmad and Adrian can't hold their own down low, those KSU guys will feast on favorable matchups.

The Big 12 has been extremely unpredictable and this game will see plenty of runs just like the first one. But it's hard to go against the Mountaineers in Morgantown, especially coming off a loss last time at home.

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