No. 14 West Virginia vs No. 2 Baylor

No. 14 West Virginia vs No. 2 Baylor | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Written by on January 11, 2021

The Big 12 schedule-makers did West Virginia no favors as after having to face No. 4 Texas on Saturday, the Mountaineers turn around and visit preseason conference favorite and No. 2 Baylor on Tuesday. The Bears will be solid home favorites on the NCAAB odds. There have been some reports of a COVID issue at West Virginia so it’s possible this game is postponed.

How to Bet West Virginia at Baylor NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

The schools split last season, each winning at home. The most recent meeting was at WVU and it was 76-64 in favor of the Mountaineers – what turned out to be the season finale for both when the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament were both canceled due to COVID. Baylor went more than eight minutes without a field goal midway through the second half to take itself out of contention for the league championship. The score in the game in Waco was 70-59 in favor of Baylor. The Bears never trailed.

Why Bet on West Virginia? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

West Virginia (9-4) lost 72-70 at home to No. 4 Texas on Saturday. Andrew Jones hit a three-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. Courtney Ramey drove into the lane among four defenders before tossing the ball to Jones in the right corner for an uncontested shot after West Virginia’s Emmitt Matthews missed two free throws with 11 seconds left.

Texas scored the final seven points of the game and avenged last year’s 38-point loss at West Virginia, which was the fifth-worst loss in program history and the worst under Coach Shaka Smart.

The Mountaineers had an opportunity to knock off the Longhorns, leading by five with 1:28 remaining, but they couldn’t cash in at the free throw line at the end.  The Mountaineers missed their final three free throws and 5 of their last 6 shots, and they scored just two points in the final 4 minutes. But the defense was the bigger issue as the Longhorns made 10 of their final 16 shots, when they were 5-for-7 on layups.

“We had the game in hand, we just needed to make some free throws,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “That’s a tough one to swallow.”

West Virginia got 17 points off the bench from Taz Sherman and 14 points and 16 rebounds from Derek Culver, who in addition to going 2-of-6 from the line, was also only 6-of-16 from the floor. It was Culver’s 23rd career double-double. Sean McNeil contributed 14 and Miles McBride added 12 for the Mountaineers.

When star Oscar Tshiebwe and West Virginia parted ways earlier this month, Huggins’ response was that West Virginia would respond by winning more games. The result has been quite the opposite. After the loss Saturday, the Mountaineers are 1-2 since Tshiebwe’s departure. It’s possible Huggins miscalculated how important Tshiebwe was to this team as a defender and rebounder. West Virginia’s defense has scuffled since Tshiebwe departed. The last four Big 12 foes have scored 72 points or more and the Mountaineers have trailed by double digits in three of those games.

Why Bet on Baylor? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

The Bears (11-0) won at TCU on Saturday 67-49. Bouncing back from his worst game of the season, Jared Butler drained four second-half 3-pointers and scored a season-high 28 points in helping No. 2 Baylor come back from a one-point halftime deficit to stay unbeaten.

“Everyone is going to have those off nights,” said Davion Mitchell, who had 10 points and six assists, with most of those going to Butler. “Coming in, he wasn’t really worried about those last few games. Every game is new to him. He came in and played hard. Even defensively, he was really good. He let the game come to him.”

After the Bears missed nine of 10 first-half 3-pointers, Mike Miles gave the Horned Frogs a one-point lead going into halftime by banking in a 3-pointer that sailed two-thirds of the court at the buzzer.

After shooting 40.7 percent in the first half, the Bears shot 50 percent in the second half while nailing five of nine 3-pointers After its lowest-scoring half of the season, Baylor rode the hot hand of Butler in exploding to 40 second-half points, shooting 50 percent overall and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

“We finally hit a 3,” Butler said. “That was big for us and our offense. We got some assisted 3’s, which was big for our offense as well. We continued the tenacious defense. They made some big shots in the first half, but our ability to play defense is really big.”

The Bears picked up their first win in Fort Worth in four years and posted their school-record 11th win in a row by double digits. Baylor is the nation’s only team to win every game by 8+ points this season (min. 4 games played).

BU leads the nation in 3FG% (.436) and scoring margin (+28.8), ranks 4th nationally in assists (20.0/gm), 4th in effective FG% (.597), 4th in offensive rebound pct. (.436), 5th in scoring (91.2), 8th in turnover margin (+6.8), 9th in steal pct. (13.2), 10th in A-T ratio (1.64) & 10th in 3-pointers made (10.9/gm).

Baylor has been top-5 ranked for 19-straight weeks. BU was top-5 for 12 weeks all-time prior to this streak. BU’s streak of 28-straight AP polls ranked is the nation’s 5th-longest active streak and longest in BU history. Baylor has led by at least 5 points in all 41 games since the start of 2019-20 (double-digit lead in 34 of 40).

Expert PredictionBaylor 77, West Virginia 67
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