Pick – Analysis
There is only one weekend Game between two Top 25 teams and this is it. Maybe it’s not that huge of a Game between the No. 22 and No. 23 team in the country, but it will be fun. The Big 12 has provided plenty of excitement this season and these two are right there with that. West Virginia and Oklahoma State are the two most recent teams that have taken down Conference leaders Kansas.
The Mountaineers are coming off a huge win over the Jayhawks on Monday that saw them come back at the end and eventually win in the final seconds. They haven’t been nearly as good on the road and with remaining road Games at Baylor and Kansas, that could be a problem. WVU has lost their last two road Games by 20 and 19 points. Their pressure defense either works, or it doesn’t and it hasn’t been on the road lately.
Oklahoma State is just looking for another home Game to boost its resume as after this one, only have Games against Texas Tech and TCU before travelling to Morgantown. The Cowboys weren’t considered to be much a few weeks ago, but after a stretch of wins at Texas, vs. Kansas and at Baylor, that perception has changed. Although back-to-back losses including a 15-point road loss at TCU doesn’t help much.
These teams are similar in stature and it’d be a surprise if this one didn’t come down to the final couple minutes. Oklahoma State’s main worry will be holding onto the ball against the team that averages the most steals per Game in the nation at 11.8. The Cowboys turn it over a decent amount, more so Le’Bryan Nash (3 turnovers per Game), who gets a bit careless at times. Stopping Nash and Phil Forte will be West Virginia’s main task. The Mountaineers have guards in Juwan Staten, Jevon Carter and Gary Browne to stay on Forte, but how will they guard Nash?
It’s likely Jonathan Holton will get the task of defending OSU’s leading scorer and that could be a problem. Anthony Hickey Jr. is the x-factor for the Cowboys, who’s been hit or miss this season since transferring from LSU. He’s a super athletic guy that could make the difference against a speedy team like the Mountaineers.
On the other end, West Virginia is similar in how they attack. Juwan Staten is their best player and runs the show and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Hickey defended him. Big man Devin Williams (11ppg, 8.1rpg) is in the same mold as Le’Bryan Nash, an athletic big guy that’s a nuisance. The difference is that Williams is a little bigger and better rebounder, but without a great jump shot. Like the Cowboys, someone such as Jevon Carter will need to step up on the road for the Mountaineers.
These teams play twice over their final Four Games of the regular season and both should be closely contested. As what is usually the case, the home team gets the edge, but if turnovers become an issue for Oklahoma State, it could become a real problem, much like it was for Kansas on Monday against West Virgnia.
Our Prediction – Oklahoma State by 5