A little over a month ago, Kansas had just extended its winning streak to 8 with a blowout win over West Virginia. Oh how times have changed. Both teams have fallen on some hard times as of late, and both could really use a win Saturday in Morgantown.
Offensively, we can discuss the Mountaineers quickly: they don’t turn the ball over, they take a ton of twos, and they grab a ton of offensive rebounds. The good news as far as Kansas is concerned is they are bad at shooting twos (45.6 percent) and are among the least prolific three-point shooting teams in the country, with fewer than 32 percent of their shots coming from behind the arc.
In the last matchup, West Virginia struggled to get penetration against the Jayhawks, something that has generally caused Kansas a lot of issues this season, especially as it relates to the resulting help defense and breakdowns off the ball. Even if they are able to force help, it would behoove Kansas to try to stay home as much as possible, if only so they can box out. The Mountaineers rebounded nearly half their misses in the game at Allen Fieldhouse, and cutting that down to even the high 30 percent mark would help tremendously in Morgantown.
Defensively, this isn’t Press Virginia, nor is it a particularly good Mountaineer defense. They’re 7th in the Big 12 in PPP Allowed, and that’s without having to play Baylor yet. They are last in the Big 12 at allowing threes, which is something the Jayhawks need to take advantage of. As we have often said, Kansas seems to shy away from the three if they start out cold, but those will be the best shots available Saturday. Of course, it’s worth noting WVU is allowing teams to shoot a whopping 53 percent from two, but Kansas hasn’t been able to get a lot of easy looks inside this season, so I suspect the three ball will be the more valuable weapon.
Players to Watch
Derek Culver, 6-10 junior forward
Culver has been one of the country’s best rebounders this season, and also a capable interior defender. He hasn’t been a great shooter, but gets to the free throw line a lot which adds value. David McCormack could take some notes.
Miles McBride, 6-2 sophomore guard
McBride is shooting over 40 percent from three this season and also has an assist rate over 25 percent while not turning it over much. He’s also probably West Virginia’s best perimeter defender.
Sean McNeil, 6-3 junior guard
McNeil is the small white kid who was 6-10 from three in the game at Allen Fieldhouse. If you take that effort out, he’s shooting under 33 percent from three this year. Cool stuff.
The teams are relatively equal in terms of quality so far this season, but I think Kansas matches up well with the Mountaineers. Having an actual big man in there helps McCormack, and KU’s guards are much better than West Virginia’s. I don’t see Kansas shooting 16-37 from deep or rebounding half their misses again, but I do see them winning again. I’ll say Kansas 75-71.
2021 record ATS: 13-4