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West Virginia

vs.

Texas Tech

College Hoops 

Pick

1/13/18

West Virginia is the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 12, but there’s no doubt the conference title will come down to the final week or two of the season. Texas Tech had its first conference loss on Tuesday and this could easily be West Virginia’s first. Playing on the road in Big 12 play will be extremely difficult for the remainder of the season and that’s the case in this one.

The Mountaineers already have two road wins, but taking down Oklahoma State and Kansas State isn’t the same as Texas Tech. The full-court press is less effective on the road and that’s where the Red Raiders will have the advantage, still without a loss at home this season. In fact, they’ve had zero issues in conference play with big wins over both Baylor and K State.

There’s a good chance this matchup is equally as defensive as the WVU-Baylor game on Tuesday that finished 57-54. Both teams go with their defenses and that could lead to another low scoring game. The Red Raiders have the third-best defense according to adjusted efficiency and the Mountaineers are at 10. Neither team does one thing particularly well on the offensive end outside of rebounding for West Virginia. It’s going to be a back-and-forth game with Tech having the edge because it’s at home.

Tech has impressed in the early season, but it’s far from over and winning games like this one will only help its NCAA tourney seeding. The Raiders are led by Keenan Evans, who’s at 17.2 points per game, but he still only averages 26.5 minutes. This is a team that uses depth to its advantage, which should be a key against the WVU press. Turning the ball over hasn’t been a major issue for them, but they haven’t faced a defense like this so that’ll be something new. Outside of Evans, any number of guys can score whether it’s freshman Zhaire Smith or Jarrett Culver. The problem is that no one else is as consistent as Evans. If Evans has trouble finding his shot against Jevon Carter, who recently dealt with Trae Young, that could be a problem for the Red Raiders.

But while Tech may have trouble scoring, it could be a similar situation for WVU, similar to Tuesday’s win against Baylor in which it shot just 19-of-61 from the floor. The Red Raiders are full of length and force difficult shots on every possession, which could be troublesome for West Virginia considering it’s not a good shooting team, namely its 33.1 percentage from deep.

Carter leads the Mountaineers in plenty of stats, but he’s struggled with his shot against the Big 12, now 11-of-37 in four games. There’s little reason to suggest he’ll catch fire on the road against this defense. That means someone else will have to step up for West Virginia and that could mean any number of guys from fellow guard Daxter Miles to big men Lamonte West and Sagaba Konate.

That said, West Virginia has already shown it can score against an elite defense in the 68-61 win over Virginia. All of the big names stepped up in that game with Carter and West combining for 45 points. Of course, that game was at home. Stealing this game in Lubbock will take some hot shooting and some luck.

Our Pick - Texas Tech -4

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