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College Basketball Odds & Picks for West Virginia vs. Texas: Longhorns to Cruise?

College Basketball Odds & Picks for West Virginia vs. Texas: Longhorns to Cruise? article feature image

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Timmy Allen (Texas)

West Virginia vs. Texas Odds

Saturday, Jan. 1
12 p.m. ET
West Virginia Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Texas Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-110o / -110u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Big 12 play gets underway for both West Virginia and Texas on New Year’s Day in Austin. These two teams are a combined 21-3 thus far this year, so both have gotten off to quality starts.

Saturday will be West Virginia’s second true road game of the season, and will  be its most difficult test to date.

Chris Beard put on his marketing cap earlier in the week and announced that $10 would get Longhorn fans a ticket to the game and a free mimosa. As a result, there should be a decent atmosphere at the Erwin Center, despite the early tip time after New Years.

With the Big 12 race expected to be very highly contested, both of these coaches know how important it will be to get off to a 1-0 start in conference play.

Both teams lean on their defense, so who has the edge in this one? Let’s find out.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Give the Mountaineers credit: it may not always be pretty, but this team is winning the games its supposed to win.

WVU edged UConn in Morgantown, won at UAB and also beat Clemson on a neutral floor. The Mountaineers have handled business against some quality mid-majors and the only blemish was to Marquette back in November.

Defense has been the calling card for this team throughout 2021. Per KenPom, WVU comes in at 25th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and fourth in defensive turnover percentage.

The latter should come as no surprise for a Bob Huggins coached team, but this year is no exception. Only Marquette has surpassed 80 points against WVU on the year.

To win at Texas on Saturday, however, WVU will need to be much more efficient on the offensive end. Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil continue to be the two reliable scorers for the Mountaineers, with both averaging over 14 a game.

Huggins’ team needs Jalen Bridges to step up and emerge as a consistent third scorer for this team to finish in the top half of the Big 12.

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Texas Longhorns

It’s been a relatively uneventful start to the year for Texas in year one under Chris Beard.

The Longhorns played two very difficult road games — at Gonzaga and Seton Hall — and came up short in both of them. Otherwise, Texas beat up on a bunch of lesser opponents at home, and then went to Las Vegas and handled Stanford.

There’s still a lot of unknowns with this team, especially with Beard still juggling his rotation with all the different pieces.

I expect Texas to continue to get better as the year goes on, and this is a nice opportunity to get a win at home to begin conference play.

Texas currently sits inside the top 35 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per Ken Pom, but the defense is the more consistent product.

Marcus Carr and Courtney Ramey are both very good on ball defenders and the return of Dylan Disu from injury gives the Horns an added rim protector.

Texas is only shooting 33.6% from 3 as a team on the year, despite having some reliable options in Andrew Jones and Jase Febres. If this team can start making a few more shots, the offense has the potential to catch up with the defense.

West Virginia vs. Texas Betting Pick

While West Virginia has been really good defensively to start the year, I think this is a game where the Mountaineers will struggle to keep pace with the Longhorns.

West Virginia doesn’t really have anyone on the interior that can cause problems on the backboard for Texas, and on the perimeter is where the strength of the Longhorns’ defense lies.

Expect Texas to really get after WVU on that end and as a result, the Mountaineers should have a hard time consistently finding offense.

On the other end, I think you’ll see Jones start to get going after a bit of a sluggish start to the year. Jones is too good of a shooter and he should get more and more open looks with Carr penetrating and kicking out.

To me this handicap is pretty simple. I think Texas is the better team on both sides of the ball, and I like the spot for the home Longhorns to start off the new year in a big way and get their first Big 12 win.

I’m laying the points as I anticipate Texas will win this game by double digits.

Pick: Texas -8.5 (Play to -11)

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