WVU conference home opener offers ranked foe

West Virginia’s Big 12 home opener brings a ranked foe and one of the conference’s upper echelon teams.

The No. 17 Mountaineers (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) host No. 22 Texas Tech (10-4, 1-1) on Saturday night. The Red Raiders were the NCAA Tournament runner up last season, falling to Virginia in overtime in the tournament final.

Early indications show a significant schism between the conference’s top four teams and the rest. WVU and TTU are among those four. Each has lost to one of the other top teams in early conference play. WVU lost 60-53 at No. 3 Kansas and Texas Tech lost 57-52 at home to No. 4 Baylor on Monday night.

The loss to Baylor snapped a five-game winning streak for the Red Raiders, which included a 70-57 win over top-ranked Louisville in New York.

Texas Tech is led by freshman phenom Jami’us Ramsey. The Red Raiders guard leads Texas Tech with 17.7 points per contest. Ramsey (6-foot-4) also averages 5.3 rebounds a game.

Senior guard Chris Clarke (6-6) paces Texas Tech on the glass, pulling down 8.6 rebounds a game. Clarke also leads the team in assists at 5.9 per contest.

West Virginia’s depth should be an advantage against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech has four players averaging more than 29 minutes a game (Ramsey, Clarke, Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards). With two more (Terrence Shannon Jr. and T.J. Holyfield) tallying more than 23 minutes a contest, the Red Raiders figure to struggle over 40 minutes against a deep WVU squad. The Mountaineers have 10 players averaging double-digit minutes played and none averaging as many as 26 minutes.

ESPN’s BPI gives the Mountaineers a significant edge in the contest.

The game tips at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.