Saturday College Basketball Betting Odds & Pick for West Virginia vs. Kansas State (Jan. 23)
David K Purdy/Getty Images. Pictured: Miles McBride.
- West Virginia will knock off some rust on Wednesday when it takes on Kansas State in Big 12 action on Saturday afternoon.
- The Mountaineers are coming off a long layoff due to COVID-19, but the Wildcats have struggled in a big way of late, giving West Virginia a perfect opportunity to get back on track.
- Check out Kyle Remillard's full betting preview complete with updated odds and a pick below.
West Virginia vs. Kansas State Odds
Bob Huggins has 818 wins in his coaching career, but he has never had to prepare for a situation like this.
The 14th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers are finally getting back on the hardwood, traveling to face the Kansas State Wildcats in what will be their first game in two weeks.
West Virginia had its previous three games canceled due to COVID-19 precautions. Rust is a major concern for Huggins’ squad, as the last game it played came on Jan. 9, a buzzer-beater loss to the Texas Longhorns.
The Kansas State program has had some COVID-19 issues of its own recently.
The Wildcats game against Iowa State on Jan. 13 was postponed and had players withheld in their two games since.
That game being delayed may not have been the worst outcome for the Wildcats, as they’ve dropped all five games in 2021 by an average margin of 16.2 points.
When West Virginia Has the Ball
West Virginia opened the year 7-1 with its only defeat being an 87-82 loss to the No. 1 Gonzaga.
A few late-game blunders since have caused the Mountaineers to drop three of their last five games to bring their record to 10-4.
Sophomore forward Derek Culver, who stands at 6-foot-10, is the backbone to this Huggins offense, as he averages 13.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Culver, the only player in the Big 12 to average double-digit rebounds, is going to be a matchup nightmare for Kansas State.
The Mountaineers have scoring options everywhere on the court with six players who average at least 8.5 points per game. Leading that group is sophomore guard Miles McBride, who’s averaging 15.1 points per game.
West Virginia’s potential rust may be a valid concern to some. But Kansas State is extremely vulnerable to a scoring drought at any time.
The Wildcats led Oklahoma last game, 22-17, midway through the first half before being outscored 54-28 in the final 25 minutes of the game.
When Kansas State Has the Ball
This 5-10 Kansas State team is still searching for its identity and who it can rely on to be a consistent scoring option.
Averaging just 63.6 points per game, the Wildcats have leaned on various players to try and find some continuity within this offense.
Three players are averaging double-digit points per game for Kansas State. One of those players, Nijel Pack, is expected to miss this matchup. Mike McGuirl is the leading scorer with 11.7 points per game, but he has needed an average of 10.9 field-goal attempts to hit that mark.
There have been plenty of tough storylines for the Wildcats this season but none worse than the loss to Division-II Fort Hays State on Dec. 8.
Kansas State responded to that loss by upsetting Iowa State as an eight-point underdog to start Big 12 play. Since then, it has been in a rough stretch, dropping its next six games in blowout fashion.
Projected to finish at the bottom of the Big 12, Kansas State has been battling both COVID-19 and the injury bug this season. With no light at the end of the tunnel for this team, it will be interesting to see how motivated it is to embrace all of the challenges that West Virginia brings.
The biggest challenge the Wildcats will face in this matchup is securing rebounds.
Culver is a monster in the paint for the Mountaineers, who grabbed 19 boards against Oklahoma State on Jan. 4. This is one of Kansas States’ biggest weaknesses thus far in the season. Although the Wildcats don’t lack height, they have only one player who averages over five rebounds a game: 6-foot-5 guard DaJuan Gordon.
West Virginia is the seventh-ranked team in the country in offensive rebound percentage, giving itself an opportunity for second-chance points on 38.3% of its misses.
One thing teams can always count on seeing from a Huggins-coached team is defensive pressure.
The Mountaineers run various defensive looks all centralized around the idea of smothering any opponent they play. That could pan out to be pivotal in this matchup, as Kansas State ranks 274th in the country in turnover percentage, turning the ball over on 21.6% of its possessions.
Kansas State also plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country — the 328th-slowest, to be exact. West Virginia will force the Wildcats to play at an uncomfortably fast pace with its stifling defense.
Betting Analysis & Pick
West Virginia is a far superior team in this matchup, and I could see things getting out of hand quickly.
The Mountaineers will look to capitalize on easy buckets off turnovers and offensive rebounds. For a Kansas State team that struggles to score, it will be a tough task to stay competitive in this game.
Kansas State has covered the spread in just four of its last 14 games, and I anticipate that trend to continue in this game. The stage is set for it to be a long night for a demoralized Kansas State team.
Pick: West Virginia -12.5 (up to -13.5)