Baylor WVA CBB Pick

198
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Baylor

vs.

West Virginia

College Basketball

Pick

2/7/15

The Big 12 is a bloodbath and both of these teams have experienced that. Baylor is ranked in the polls, but they’re still looking to stay above .500 in the Conference with a win in this Game. West Virginia is coming off a 19-point loss against a team they previously beat by 21 points.

That’s how much home-cOurt advantage means in this conference. The Mountaineers looked completely inept against Oklahoma on Tuesday, a team they scored 86 points on in the last meeting. The difference was that leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Devin Williams did not play due to an illness. While he didn’t make WVU shoot 5-of-26 from three, his absence was felt. But with Williams back this weekend and a return home, West Virginia will be looking to pounce on a Baylor team that struggles away from Waco.

The Bears need a defining road win at some point this season if they want a good seeding come bracket time. Baylor’s best Conference road win is an OT Game at TCU, and in non-Conference play they didn’t do much either. They haven’t played the best of the Conference yet, losing to Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the road. This isn’t a great matchup for them either.

West Virginia leads the nation by a healthy margin with 12.2 steals per Game, while Baylor turns it over 12.2 times per Game. WVU forced Texas Tech into 26 turnovers the last time they were in Morgantown. This is an immediate problem for Baylor, considering point guard Kenny Chery turned it over six times the last time they played on the road.

The Mountaineers run an aggressive defense led by their quick guards Juwan Staten and Jevon Carter. It helps that their bigs can also move well in Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton. However, on the other end, WVU isn’t a great shooting team, which is why they have trouble on the road. Leading scorer Staten (14.8 ppg) only shoots at a 41.3% clip and a couple others in the starting unit are below 40%. That’s not good enough.

Baylor usually dominates the glass, but they’ll have trouble doing so against Williams (assuming he’s over his illness) and Holton, who combine for 14.1 boards per Game. Granted, Rico Gathers collects 12 rebounds per Game himself for the Bears.

The play of Chery is the most important aspect of the Game for Baylor. In addition to not turning the ball over, he’s the team’s best pure scorer, and that was seen after he dropped 23 points against Texas. This is still a kid that hasn’t really improved since last season, however, as he’s shooting at a lower rate, assisting less and turning it over more. With more defensive attention he hasn’t lived up to the billing.

Royce O’Neale may be their next most important player. If he’s on his Game, Baylor is usually in a good position. He went for 20 points, 8 boards and 5 assists in the Texas win, but at OK State before that, finished with zero points. That’s not going to help the cause.

Neither one of these teams shoots particularly well, but the defense of West Virginia may end up being the difference. Baylor struggles to Scoreon the road already, and throw in this swarming WVU defense and it doesn’t look promising for the Bears. The return of Devin Williams will help a lot, especially against a big team like Baylor.

Our Prediction – West Virginia by 7

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