BAYLOR BEARS (15-0)
at WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (13-2)
WVU Coliseum Ė Morgantown, WV
Tip-off: Tuesday, 7:00 pm ET
Line: West Virginia -6.0, Total: 141.0
#10 West Virginia will be looking to knock off undefeated #1 Baylor at WVU Coliseum on Tuesday.
Baylor was unranked to start the season, but the Bears are now the top team in the nation after winning their first 15 games. Some of those wins have been extremely impressive, as Baylor has already defeated Oregon, VCU, Michigan State, Louisville, Xavier and Iowa State. The Bears have been winning these games on the defensive end of the floor, as they have now held their opponents to under 40% shooting from the floor in nine of their past 10 games. That is a ridiculous number, and it is a big reason that Baylor has allowed just 58.3 PPG this season (4th in NCAA). Stopping West Virginia wonít be quite as easy as those other teams, though. The Mountaineers are scoring 90.1 PPG this season (5th in NCAA) and they are doing it rather efficiently. West Virginia has shot 45% from the field or better in nine of their past 10, so something will have to give against Baylor. West Virginia got the best of this matchup a year ago, beating Baylor both SU and ATS twice. The Bears had, however, won-and-covered in four straight prior to those losses. Over the past two seasons, the Bears are 6-0 ATS in road games after three straight games forcing opponents to commit 14 or fewer turnovers over the past two games. Baylor is, however, a lousy 0-6 ATS after playing three straight games as a favorite over the past three seasons, and the team is facing a Mountaineers squad that is 30-12 ATS in home games off a home win by 10 points or more since 1997.
If Baylor is going to stay perfect with a win on Tuesday then F Johnathan Motley (15.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG) will need to come up big on the road. Motley has recorded a double-double in four straight games, and he has shot 60.0% from the field or better in four of the past five contests. Motley is excellent around the basket and heíll need to be a force in this one. If he can find a way to score at least 15 points then that would really help this Baylor team. G Manu Lecomte (11.8 PPG, 4.9 APG, 1.2 SPG) is also going to need to be at his best against West Virginia. The Mountaineers love to press, so itís important that Lecomte takes care of the basketball, if nothing else. He has turned the ball over at least three times in three of the past four games, and one would think that number would go up against this West Virginia press. Itís important, however, that he tries to keep it the same or heíll be seriously hurting his team in a tough road spot. One guy that could be an x-factor in this game is C Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. (10.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.5 BPG), who has been a monster for Baylor this season. Lual-Acuil Jr. is one of the best shot blockers in the Big 12, and heíll need to protect the rim in this one. Itís also important that he avoids foul trouble, as West Virginia is too good of an offensive team for him to be off the floor for long stretches of time.
The Mountaineers have a chance to pick up a huge victory on Tuesday, and they are going to need a big scoring game from G Daxter Miles Jr. (11.1 PPG, 1.6 SPG) in this one. Miles Jr. has been extremely inconsistent this season, as he has scored 20 or more points in two of the past three, but scored fewer than 10 points in three of the past five. The crazy thing is that Miles Jr. is a very good shooter, knocking down 45.2% of his threes on the season. He should not struggle to find the bottom of the net, but he does tend to disappear. Itís big that West Virginia does everything it can to get him going in this one. G Jevon Carter (10.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.1 SPG) is also going to need to score on Tuesday. Carter has scored at least 10 points in six straight games, and itíd be big if he can reach that mark on Tuesday. He also needs to continue to wreak havoc defensively, as he has had four or more steals in seven different games this season. That type of performance would make Baylor very uncomfortable, and he could get the crowd into it by turning some of those steals into points. On the inside, Fs Esa Ahmed (12.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 SPG) and Nathan Adrien (9.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG) will need to do everything they can to give Johnathan Motley trouble. If one of them can find a way to outplay Motley then this should be an upset victory for the Mountaineers.