West Virginia’s flawless home record is about to get its biggest test yet, and our college basketball picks think Kansas has the poise — and the talent — to silence the Mountaineers faithful Saturday.
The No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks head to Morgantown to face off against the West Virginia Mountaineers in NCAA basketball action on Saturday.
The Jayhawks are the defending national champions and have won seven games in a row while the Mountaineers are on a two-game skid that dropped them out of the AP Top 25.
This is expected to be a close game with college basketball odds opening with WVU as a slim 1.5-point home underdog. Here are my best free Kansas vs. West Virginia college basketball picks and predictions for January 7.
Kansas vs West Virginia best odds
Kansas vs West Virginia picks and predictions
Many college basketball teams struggle to shoot on the road but the experienced Jayhawks have shown that they can get the job done.
They’re coming off a victory in Lubbock against a defensively tough Texas Tech squad where they shot 49% from the floor and 46% from beyond the arc. They also scored 95 points on a sizzling 57% shooting (including 45% from deep) on the road against No. 20 Missouri last month.
The Mountaineers have gone a perfect 7-0 at home this season but haven’t really been tested. They’ve faced only one team ranked in the Top 150 of the KenPom rankings at home, and that was UAB who is a modest 48th. West Virginia is also just 1-4 SU overall against Quadrant 1 foes while Kansas is 6-1 versus Quad 1 opponents.
The Mountaineers are physical on defense, but that physicality can be a double-edged sword and they send opponents to the charity stripe far too often, ranking 310th in the country in fouls per defensive play.
Although both teams do an excellent job of forcing turnovers the Mountaineers will be more susceptible to ball pressure today since they’ll be without point guard Kedrian Johnson, who leads the team in assists (3.4) and steals (1.6) per game.
Don’t expect the Jayhawks to be intimidated by the atmosphere at the WVU Coliseum and take them to win and cover.
My best bet: Kansas -1.5 (-110 at bet365)
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Kansas vs West Virginia spread analysis
The Jayhawks have gone 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games and are fresh off a 75-72 victory against Texas Tech on the road. Before that, they were almost upset by Oklahoma State at home but managed to rally from a 15-point halftime deficit to win 69-67.
The Jayhawks’ only loss this season came against No. 8 Tennessee and they have wins against Wisconsin, Duke, Indiana, and Missouri who are all currently inside the Top 20.
The Jayhawks have a very deep and balanced rotation, led by Wooden Award candidate Jalen Wilson (20.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and sharp-shooting freshman Grady Dick (14.6 ppg on 47/47/79 shooting splits). Senior Kevin McCullar (11.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.5 spg) is a swiss-army knife while point guard Dajuan Harris (6.5 apg, 2.1 spg) is an excellent passer and on-ball defender.
The Jayhawks are terrific on both ends of the floor and are 13th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom while ranking 10th on defense.
The Mountaineers cracked the AP Top 25 on Boxing Day and promptly fell out after losing two in a row on the road. They lost in overtime to Kansas State last week before falling to Oklahoma State by a score of 67-60 on Monday. West Virginia shot just 37% from the floor against the Cowboys — including going just 5-18 from beyond the arc.
Guard Erik Stevenson was an efficient 7-12 for 17 points in that contest and when he fouled out with five minutes left in the game West Virginia’s offense sputtered down the stretch.
Stevenson leads WVU with 14.1 points in just 23.6 minutes per game and he knocks down 44.8% of his three-pointers. Forward Tre Mitchell is right behind him with 13.3 ppg on 51.9% shooting from the field. The absence of Johnson will hurt however, with the senior point guard sidelined by a concussion.
Despite falling out of the AP Top 25, the Mountaineers are still No.16 in the NET rankings and No. 20 in adjusted efficiency margin according to KenPom. They are solid on both ends of the floor ranking 27th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
These Big 12 foes faced off three times last season with the Jayhawks going 3-0 SU and ATS and winning each game by at least 13 points. That said, while guys like Wilson, Harris, and K.J. Adams return from last season’s Kansas squad, the Mountaineers have a completely different rotation.
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Kansas vs West Virginia Over/Under analysis
The total opened at 142.5 before ticking up to 143.5. It’s tough to handicap this middling number since both teams are almost equally efficient on both ends of the floor.
That said, the fact that the Mountaineers are 32nd in opponent turnover rate and the Jayhawks are 36th might mean that we’ll get to see pressure and faster transitions.
Both squads also shoot the ball well from deep with the Jayhawks 33rd in the country in 3-point percentage (37.6%) and the Mountaineers 60th (36.6%). If this gets into a track meet and shooting clinic between these schools, we could see a high-scoring contest.
The Over is 27-9 in West Virginia’s last 36 games while going 16-7 in the Jayhawks’ previous 23 contests on the road.
Kansas vs West Virginia betting trend to know
The Mountaineers are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games versus a team with a winning road record. Find more College basketball betting trends for Kansas vs. West Virginia.
Kansas vs West Virginia game info
|Location:||WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV|
|Date:||Saturday, January 7, 2023|
|Tip-off:||6:00 p.m. ET|