College Basketball Betting Previews: Virginia-Virginia Tech, Kansas State-West Virginia
West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins and forward Sagaba Konate. Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
After a thrilling 143-game Saturday schedule, college basketball takes a bit of a respite with a light 14-game slate on Monday.
Today we’ll analyze a pair of teams trying to stay in the hunt for their respective conference’s regular-season titles.
Let’s breakdown Virginia at Virginia Tech and Kansas State at West Virginia.
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Virginia Cavaliers at Virginia Tech Hokies
- Spread: Virginia -5.5
- Over/Under: 121.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Virginia (22-2) has been playing elite basketball all season. The Cavaliers are 10-2 in conference, 7-1 in true road games, and have one of the best against-the-spread records (15-7, including 7-2 on the road).
While Virginia Tech (20-5) has enjoyed a great season overall, it has struggled lately. The Hokies are 12-1 at home but only 8-10-1 ATS. They have failed to cover (0-3-1) in their past four games.
There are three key inflection points for this game:
- No Justin Robinson: The Virginia Tech senior point guard has missed the past five games with a toe injury. His absence has left the Hokies with just seven scholarship players, forcing their pressure defense to soften. Virginia Tech ranks 32nd overall in adjusted defensive efficiency but only ninth within ACC games.
- 3-Point Dependency: The Hokies have produced 40.4% of their points from 3-point range, the 14th-highest mark in the country. Within conference play, they rank first in points generated from beyond the arc. Robinson’s efficiency (41.1% from 3) is a huge loss against a Cavaliers team that ranks second in the country at defending the 3 (26.7% allowed).
- Virginia’s Offensive Efficiency: The Cavaliers are brilliant at getting high-quality shots on every possession. The only teams that worse than Virginia Tech at defending inside the arc within ACC conference play are Miami and Wake Forest. The Cavaliers are 2-0 against those teams with an average margin of victory of 16.5 points. Virginia also ranks first in the ACC in 3-point accuracy at 40.9%. The Hokies rank 12th in the conference at defending the 3, allowing conference opponents to shoot an average of 36.4%.
Last season, Virginia Tech shocked Virginia with a 61-60 OT win in Charlottesville during the month of February. While the Hokies always bring maximum effort, there is little chance of a repeat performance with a short-handed roster.
Grab the Cavaliers with confidence and lay the small point spread.
THE PICK: Virginia -5.5
Kansas State Wildcats at West Virginia Mountaineers
- Spread: Kansas State -7.5
- Over/Under: 133.5
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Kansas State (19-6) holds a tenuous half-game lead in the Big 12 standings. The Wildcats are coming off a 78-64 home loss to Iowa State on Saturday in which center Dean Wade left with a foot injury during the second half.
K-State is 13-10 against the spread and an impressive 6-3 on the road.
West Virginia (10-15) is having a season to forget, but has still played surprisingly tough at home. The Mountaineers own home victories over Kansas and Oklahoma, along with a two-point loss on the road at Kansas State on Jan. 9. West Virginia is only 9-15 overall against the spread but 3-3 in their Big 12 conference home games.
Kansas State has recently suffered two major injuries. Besides Wade, guard Cartier Diarra (6.2 ppg, 1.1 spg) suffered a hand injury that needed surgery. Both are critical personnel losses for a Wildcats team that needs this road win.
Without Wade earlier this year, the Wildcats lost their first two Big 12 games and barely beat West Virginia at home.
Even with the ninth-best defensive efficiency rating this season, the Wildcats have struggled against the 3, allowing a conference-worst 36.6% by opponents from beyond the arc. They also present little resistance on the interior, ranking last in the Big 12 in blocks per game.
The Mountaineers will need to exploit a huge advantage on the boards. West Virginia ranks 10th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and second within conference play.
Freshman forward Derek Culver (11.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg) will aim to have a repeat performance of the prior meeting. He totaled 17 points and 12 rebounds in the first matchup and would greatly benefit from Wade’s absence.
This West Virginia team has played well over its last six home games and is always well coached by Bob Huggins. If Wade does not play, this is a prime spot to play West Virginia on the moneyline.
Even if he does, the lack of Diarra and the home crowd should get the Mountaineers to easily cover the 7.5 point spread.
THE PICK: West Virginia +7.5