NCAAB Odds, Picks & Prediction for Auburn vs West Virginia
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Erik Stevenson (West Virginia)
Auburn vs West Virginia Odds
-110o / -110u
|West Virginia Odds|
-110o / -110u
Auburn had won five straight games in the SEC and was riding high headed into Wednesday night’s home clash with Texas A&M. The Aggies hit the Tigers early, though, and exposed some real flaws with Auburn’s defense in a 79-63 road victory.
The Tigers will look to bounce back, as they step out of conference play for an SEC/Big 12 Challenge road trip to Morgantown to take on West Virginia.
It’s been a nightmare in conference play for Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers, who began league play 0-5 with three losses by one possession or in overtime.
They picked up a critical home win at TCU and then nabbed a Quadrant I road victory on Wednesday night at Texas Tech.
Like Texas A&M, West Virginia actually profiles pretty similarly to Auburn on the offensive end. Both love to attack the rim downhill, get to the free-throw line and pull in offensive rebounds.
But the difference in this matchup should be on the defensive end, where Auburn showed signs of regression on Wednesday. I think the Tigers will continue to do so on Saturday on the road.
Auburn’s inability to shoot from the perimeter has been a major headache for Bruce Pearl this season.
The Tigers have made just 29.4% from 3 this season and 28.3% in SEC play. Both are among the worst in the entire country and conference.
ShotQuality data and the shooting history of the players in the rotation suggests that they’re probably a couple ticks better overall, but not much.
They rank 316th in Open 3 rate, so it’s not as if the Tigers are getting a bunch of unguarded jumpers and not making them. It’s a lot of difficult, contested looks from mediocre shooters.
The inability to shoot means they have to get downhill or get out in transition to score. They run a lot of pick-and-roll, a lot of cutting action and try to run when possible.
The Mountaineers grade out really well in transition defense and do a solid job of guarding ball screens.
Where Auburn can potentially find success offensively is through its cutting actions. The Mountaineers play a very aggressive style of half-court defense that prioritizes selling out for turnovers and taking risks to turn over the opponent.
The Tigers tend to turn the ball over frequently, though, and West Virginia does a better job of protecting the rim than many teams Auburn sees in the SEC. The Mountaineers have a top-50 defense in near proximity shots, per Haslametrics.
Unless Auburn is able to just live at the free-throw line and get a favorable whistle in Morgantown — the Mountaineers do foul plenty — it’s hard to see Auburn getting much offense in the half-court here.
Auburn has the second-best 3-point shooting defense in the country and in the SEC. It has faced a lot of teams that haven’t had the shooters and haven’t made the open shots when presented this season, and it has created an inflated perception of it as a team defense.
Teams are shooting just 29.8% against Auburn on unguarded jumpers, per Synergy. That makes the Tigers a pretty fortunate defense.
West Virginia has an above-average perimeter offense, and it may finally be time for this Auburn defense to regress from the outside. Texas A&M made 7-of-16 from deep on Wednesday, and the Aggies don’t feature an offense that shoots the ball much from the perimeter.
The Mountaineers have made just 32.7% from beyond the 3-point arc on unguarded jumpers and do like to get out in transition to generate better looks because their half-court offense is lacking at times.
West Virginia should also be able to get to the line at will because of Auburn’s low foul rate.
You should expect a lot of whistles in this game, and I’d always prefer to back the home team in a close matchup when officiating is supposed to play a bigger than normal role.
Auburn vs. West Virginia Betting Pick
Auburn was downgraded considerably after its double-digit home loss to Texas A&M and that did take away some of the value in the spot here.
The market now essentially says that Auburn and West Virginia are even teams, when that wouldn’t have been the case prior to Wednesday.
I don’t think Auburn has quite fallen enough in its metrics on defense yet, and more regression looms.
The Mountaineers have lost a bunch of heartbreakers in the Big 12, but they’re still a very difficult beat in Morgantown.
I’m getting the better team at home in one of the best home gyms in all of the country. Plus, I don’t have to lay more than four points.
I like West Virginia to show that Auburn’s home loss to Texas A&M signaled more than just a blip.
The Mountaineers are better than their record and are undervalued coming out of the grueling Big 12 scheduling.
I’d play WVU at -4 or better.
Pick: West Virginia -4 or Better
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