When a team can win by thirteen points despite shooting only 37% from the field, you know they’ve got something special going on. That’s pretty much the way Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari described his club’s victory in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament over the Cincinnati Bearcats in NCAA college basketball picks. Now the undefeated Kentucky team faces a different challenge going up against the West Virginia Mountaineers, who will put the pressure on as college basketball betting action in the Sweet 16 begins at 9:45 PM ET at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. When this game tips off, the wild and wacky wagering gets started, with Live Betting Extra from the people at BetAnySports.
In Kentucky’s 64-51 victory, they allowed Cincinnati to shoot just 31.7% from the field. The front line of Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Liles combined for seven blocked shots. Kentucky is now 36-0 straight-up and 18-17 against the basketball pointspread.
West Virginia rolled to a 69-59 victory over Maryland last weekend, forcing 23 turnovers. That is indeed their kind of game, as they lead the nation with 10.9 steals per game. Coach Bob Huggins believes he can put enough pressure on the Kentucky backcourt to create some easy opportunities. The Mountaineers are currently 25-9 straight-up and 19-13 ATS.
These teams have met twice in NCAA Tournament competition over the last five seasons. In 2010, Kentucky was turned back by West Virginia as they experienced Brick City from beyond the three-point arc, making just four out of their 32 shots in an Elite 8 matchup. The next season, the Wildcats got payback by a 71-63 score.
On paper, this doesn’t look like much of a chance for West Virginia. After all, this is a team that shoots only 41% from the field, while allowing 46.8%. Meanwhile, Kentucky has held opponents to 35% accuracy, and they are ranked not only #1 in the polls, but first in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
BetAnySports customers know that what West Virginia must do is force turnovers, plain and simple. They have been able to do that on 28% of their opponents’ possessions, and they just keep coming, because Huggins has a lot of people to pull off his bench. With all that aggressiveness, West Virginia commits a lot of fouls. In fact, they send their opponents to the line more than any team in the nation. Kentucky is a 72% free throw shooting team, and they have been able to compile a free throw “rate” of 44%.
Because West Virginia is not especially big, they will have problems preventing the Wildcats from attacking the basket. On offense, Devin Williams has averaged 18 points over the last four games, but how will you deal with that front wall? At least the Mountaineers have Juwan Staten back in the lineup. He is only a 42% shooter, but has averaged 14.2 points per game.
As college basketball bettors know, Kentucky pulled off a rarity this season, in that they actually brought back players for second season. The Harrison brothers in the backcourt are now “veterans.” So let’s see if they wilt in the face of West Virginia’s pressure.