Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers, 9-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12 Conference, will face perhaps the hottest team in the entire nation tomorrow when they play the Texas Longhorns, 9-1 and 3-0.
Texas has won its last 5 games in a row, including a huge 84-59 win against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, one of the toughest places in the country for a road team to win at.
The Longhorns are led by three tough guards, senior Matt Coleman, junior Courtney Ramey and junior Andrew Jones.
Coleman leads the team, averaging 13.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. Ramey averages 13.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds, and Jones is averaging 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
Texas also has quality interior players with freshman Greg Brown averaging 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, and sophomore Kai Jones, who averages 8.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
The Mountaineers, who have recently lost forwards Isaiah Cottrell to a season-ending Achilles’ heel injury and Oscar Tshiebwe to the transfer portal, will likely feature a smaller lineup than normal to counteract Texas’ three guard attack. In addition, Derek Culver, who is coming off a 22 points, 19 rebounds effort against Oklahoma State, should have plenty of opportunities against the Longhorns’ smaller lineup.
The Longhorns are a deep, well-rounded team that have been one of the most impressive teams defensively in the country this season. Texas is currently ranked #3 in the nation in defensive efficiency according to the KenPom rankings.
According to Bob Huggins, this is “by far” the best Texas team under Shaka Smart. “I think, to a large degree, their defense is great because of the athleticism they have. They have shot blocker after shot blocker and shot changer after shot changer. Their guards are good. They have guards that have been in this league for quite a while and they put pressure on the ball. This is, I think, a way better team than what we’ve seen before.”
The most reliable computer models (KenPom and Torvik) both have Texas as roughly a 1.5-point favorite to defeat West Virginia, according to Sports Betting Dime. However, the long journey to Morgantown is arguably the toughest in the Big 12, a fact well known among oddsmakers.
Last season, WVU was 13-2 at home, including a 97-59 beatdown of the Longhorns and a double-digit win over #4 ranked Baylor. Expect tomorrow’s game to open as a pick ’em at worst for the Mountaineers.
The game begins at 1:00PM eastern and will be televised live on ESPN.