College Basketball Pick
Behind Kansas, the race for second in the Big 12 is truly a mess and both of these teams are in the middle of it. West Virginia still has to play the Jayhawks twice along with this road Game and another one at Baylor, so the Mountaineers probably need this win more.
As for Iowa State, it looks like they still haven’t gotten over their road woes as seen in previous seasons. The Cyclones have now lost Four straight road Games, including the confusing Texas Tech loss. Although for this Game, they did win at West Virginia the first time around. In addition, ISU has one of the better home-cOurt advantages in the nation. They are currently undefeated in Ames and it’s going to take something special to beat them.
The Mountaineers haven’t won an eye-popping Game on the road yet, but still have wins at TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas State. They were also blown out by 27 at Texas and 19 at Oklahoma. WVU doesn’t have many chances to get another road win this year, so each one will be important for them because the committee loves big road wins.
In the first Game, steals/turnovers and offensive rebounds kept West Virginia in the Game as they forced the Cyclones into 18 turnovers with nine steals and 10 more offensive boards even though they lost the total rebound battle. Even though they were terrible from the field, that led to 18 more shots, which made the Game close.
The difference in this matchup could be the play of Jameel McKay. The transfer from Marquette wasn’t eligible until the end of December and he was still seeing limited minutes in the WVU Game. However, at Oklahoma, he played 33 minutes and has become an important factor for the Cyclones, especially in the paint. Stopping Devin Williams (14 and 15 last meeting, 6 offensive rebounds) from dominating the glass will be one of his priorities. McKay has the size and athleticism to deal with him.
OUtside of that, it’s usually easier the second time around against West Virginia, if you’ve already played their defense. That’s not to say the Cyclones won’t struggle, but it’s hard to see them turning it over 18 times again in the same fashion.
Players like Juwan Staten are the best antidotes for Iowa State’s quick-paced Game and it showed in the last Game as he finished with 23 points. It’ll be up to Staten again, as well as Williams if West Virginia wants to keep it close on the road. For the Mountaineers to get the road upset, they’ll have to hope that Iowa State goes cold from the floor, or someone else like Gary Browne has a career day.
Teams have come close against the Cyclones in Ames, but they’ve never been able to put it all together. Texas Tech scored just 38 points the last time ISU was at home. West Virginia has to repeat what they did last Game to keep it close, but with McKay in the picture now, that may be too difficult.
Our Prediction – Iowa State by 2