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West Virginia vs. Morehead State Odds, Pick, Prediction: Bet the Mountaineers to Move On With Ease in NCAA Tournament

West Virginia vs. Morehead State Odds, Pick, Prediction: Bet the Mountaineers to Move On With Ease in NCAA Tournament article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Sean McNeil.

  • West Virginia enters the NCAA Tournament as a new team. Will it move onto the second round?
  • Our college basketball analysts preview the Mountaineers' first-round matchup against Morehead State.
  • Find out why they think West Virginia will cover Friday's double-digit spread with ease.

West Virginia vs. Morehead State Odds

West Virginia Odds-13
Morehead State Odds+13
Moneyline-1115 / +700
TimeFriday, 9:50 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings.

The last time West Virginia earned a No. 3 seed was in 2016 when it ruined my bracket after getting bounced in the first round by 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin.

Head coach Bob Huggins has since changed the identity of his West Virginia program, which now thrives on the offensive end. The Mountaineers have a plethora of shooters surrounding the 6-foot-10 forward Derek Culver. This new approach led the Mountaineers to an 18-9 season and a third-place finish in Big 12 play.

West Virginia matches up with Morehead State, which ran through the Ohio Valley Conference and finished with a blistering 20-3 record.

The Eagles thrived on the defensive end and will need to lean on that strength in an attempt to slow down the Mountaineers’ offense. Morehead State really struggled when facing non-conference opponents, getting creamed when it played any opponent ranked inside the top 100.

A big question mark surrounding Morehead State this season is if it has progressed enough to be competitive when stepping up in competition.

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West Virginia Mountaineers

Kyle Remillard: West Virginia is heading to the NCAA Tournament as a 3-seed after finishing the season 18-9 and 7-7 in Quadrant 1 games.

The Mountaineers finished the season dropping three of their final four games. One of those games was an overtime loss to Baylor along with back-to-back losses at the hands of Oklahoma State.

Bob Huggins has changed the identity of this program from being a defensive-minded team to the modernized style of basketball utilizing the 3-point shot.

The Mountaineers own the 11th-ranked offense, scoring 116.8 points per every 100 possessions, according to KenPom. Huggins’ squad gets to the free-throw line often and grabs offensive boards on 35.6% of its misses.

The group is led by 6-foot-10 forward Derek Culver, who averaged 14.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. They have three 3-point bombers surrounding Culver in Miles McBride (39.2%), Taz Sherman (36.6%) and Sean McNeil (37.9%).

McBride is one of the best defenders in the country, which is a weapon when playing a team with strong guard play in the tournament. This untraditional Huggins team has the ability to make a deep run in this tournament if its shooters get hot from behind the arc.

I’m not too concerned about the Mountaineers being on upset alert as they didn’t have a bad loss on their resume all season.

Morehead State is a strong defensive team in the Ohio Valley Conference but got absolutely demolished when it stepped up in competition. The Eagles lost by 26 points to Kentucky, 18 points to Richmond, 33 points to Ohio State, and 15 points to Clemson earlier in the year.

Morehead State Eagles

Stuckey: Distinguished defense and relentless rebounding — that’s the Morehead State bread and butter.

The Eagles, who are the lone representative in the tourney from the state of Kentucky, can just absolutely suffocate teams defensively in the half-court and do so without fouling.

They have a very versatile rotation that gives them a lot of flexibility in their man-to-man defense. They also rank in the top 75 in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate.

This is a hard-nosed, physical team that boasts a 19-1 record since the calendar flipped to the new year.

Freshman Johni Broome (13.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG) has been a revelation on both ends of the floor. He’s essentially a high-major caliber player on the low block.

Thanks in large part to Broome, it is very hard to get anything at the rim against Morehead State, which is simply tough to get out of position. The Eagles also have the third-highest percentage of blocked shots at the rim, trailing only Utah State and St. Peters, who have elite rim protectors of their own in Neemias Queta and KC Ndefo.

Ultimately, that leads to a high rate of opponent 3-point attempts.

Morehead State probably wanted to keep playing, as it will be nearly two weeks since its last game action when it tips off Friday. Some of their momentum they had in the OVC tourney might have worn off, especially in regards to outside shooting.

This is just not a very efficient offense in large part due to their struggles at the free-throw line and glaring turnover problems. The Eagles, who rank outside the top-300 in Adjusted Tempo, have the highest turnover rate (22.9%) of any team in the dance and rank 332nd nationally in that category.

They also leave too many free points on the table at just higher than 68% from the charity stripe, which is concerning for a team that gets to the line frequently.

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Matchup & Betting Analysis

Kyle Remillard: Morehead State got destroyed early in the season when it faced a step up in caliber of competition, allowing an average of 76.5 points per game. That’s a staggering difference compared to the 61.8 points per game that the Eagles allowed during Ohio Valley Conference play.

The Eagles’ 6-foot-10 freshman forward Johni Broome has been a beast down low throughout conference play.

But I can’t envision him having his way against Mountaineers big man Derek Culver. That will be a key matchup to watch in this game: If Broome gets in foul trouble, then this one could get out of hand quickly.

I’m trusting Bob Huggins and his group of 3-point snipers to jump out to an early lead and keep the foot on the pedal.

Morehead State hasn’t shown the ability to hang with some of the more talented teams in the country, and it is matched up against an extremely athletic Mountaineers squad in the first round.

Pick: West Virginia -13 (up to -14).

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