NCAA Basketball Spread: West Virginia -1.5
A rare Friday night tilt will take place in Morgantown this week. Marquette is tied for second place in the highly competitive Big East, and the Golden Eagles are on a roll of late. West Virginia has lost six of eight games. Bob Huggins team is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble at this point. Can the Mountaineers pick up a big win to help their tournament chances?
Buzz Peterson’s Marquette team is a dangerous one that could make some real noise in March. The Golden Eagles have won nine of their last ten games, with their only loss coming at Notre Dame. Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder give Marquette one of the best one-two punches in the nation. DJO can shoot it well from the outside, and he can also drive the lane and get to the basket. Johnson-Odom averages 18.7 points per game, and he shoots 40.1% from three-point range. Crowder is an undersized forward as far as height, but he can bang with the big guys because of his strength. The 6’6 Crowder leads the team in field goal percentage, rebounds, and even steals. Crowder averages 2.4 steals per game.
Marquette is quite a bit better this year on the defensive end. The Golden Eagles allow opponents to shoot just 40.8% from the floor. Davante Gardner has missed the team’s last six games, and he is listed as questionable for this one. The Golden Eagles could really use his size down low in this game.
West Virginia typically plays some very good half court defense, but this year’s squad has struggled. The Mountaineers allow opponents to shoot 44.5% from the floor. The team lacks a shot blocker in the post, and the opposition has been able to take advantage of that. Kevin Jones has been amazing for West Virginia this year. Jones averages 20.2 points and 11.2 boards per game. He is shooting 53% from the floor and 78% from the line. Darryl Bryant is the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game. The problem with Bryant has been shot selection. Bryant is shooting only 35.9% from the floor this year. Deniz Kilicli will need to have a big game if West Virginia is going to win this one.
The strength of this West Virginia team is their ability to rebound the basketball. Look for West Virginia to get second chance opportunities quite often in this game. The Mountaineers shoot only 31% from three-point range as a team. West Virginia must score inside the paint in this game.
Marquette just keeps rolling along, and I think they’ll likely be too much for West Virginia here. The Golden Eagles are much deeper than the Mountaineers.
Free College Basketball Pick: Marquette +1.5
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