Kentucky WVA CBB

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Kentucky

vs.

West Virginia

College Basketball

Pick

1/27/18 

At some point, Kentucky has to pick up more quality wins and this one will likely end up being its toughest Game of the season. As for West Virginia, it still has a legit chance to secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Winning the rest of its home Games will be important, especially this one, which will also add to its non-Conference strength of Schedule.

The Wildcats have had major issues against good competition this season with most of their best wins coming in the final minute or two with some luck involved. OUtside of the Louisville blowout, it’s been shaky for UK and things have been even worse on the road with losses at Tennessee and South Carolina. The bad news is that West Virginia is better than both of those teams and has beaten teams like Oklahoma and Texas by double digits at home.

The Mountaineers live by their press and forcing turnovers and that’s one thing Kentucky struggles at, turning the ball over on almost 20 percent of possessions. That doesn’t bold well for this matchup and that gets even worse on the road. WVU’s weakest spot may be in fouling opponents and that’s an area Kentucky can capitalize on if it can beat the press. Otherwise, the Wildcats will have a hard time getting easy looks.

For West Virginia on the offensive end, it will crash the glass and according to the numbers that will work as Kentucky is below average at getting defensive rebounds. And while the Cats are one of the best in defensive three-point percentage, that’s not something WVU is good at anyway.

Kentucky’s keys are not turning it over and holding its own on the defensive glass. Quade Green returned from injury last Game and while he was 1-of-8 from the field, his ball handling will be useful in this matchup along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the backcOurt. If those two can get the ball up the cOurt without any issues that will be the start of something good for Kentucky. But getting open looks will be difficult with Jevon Carter expected to be glued on Gilgeous-Alexander and shot blocker Sagaba Konate sitting in the paint waiting for any Wildcat player that is looking to drive.

It doesn’t help Kentucky that WVU has the guys to match up on every level with LAmont West and Esa Ahmad having the size and athleticism to deal with PJ Washington and Kevin Knox. Knox leads the Wildcats with 14.6 points per Game, but is extremely inconsistent and in most losses, tends to struggle. This isn’t a great matchup for him, which means this isn’t a great matchup for Kentucky.

But if the press isn’t working and the Mountaineers aren’t forcing turnovers, there’s always the chance this is a close Game. WVU isn’t a good shooting team and can be dealt with as long as it doesn’t force turnovers. The return of Ahmad in the last Four Games has been nice for WVU, but the offense still struggles in the half cOurt, especially if Carter isn’t making shots.

This is an extremely difficult spot for Kentucky, but definitely a winnable one. The question is if you think the Wildcats won’t turn the ball over as much as they have been all season. If they don’t, they’ll be in contention. If they do, this could be another WVU blowout.

Our pick – Kentucky +8.5