WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (17-10, 7-7 Big East)
at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (19-8, 11-3 Big East)
Tip-Off: Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Notre Dame -3˝, Total: 124˝
No. 20 Notre Dame looks to extend its Big East-best winning streak to nine games and maintain its grip on second place in the conference when it hosts West Virginia on Wednesday night at the Joyce Center.
This game presents an interesting matchup of contrasting styles—West Virginia plays a physical game and likes to pound the ball inside the paint while Notre Dame relies more on perimeter shooting from its guards. The Irish won the first matchup of the year, narrowly defeating the favored Mountaineers 55-51 in Morgantown. Who will win this Big East showdown? For the answer, check out the College Basketball Weekday 6-Pack for picks covering all the big games in college basketball each weekday. The 6-Pack is 3-1 ATS since Sunday.
West Virginia is 2-3 over its past five games (1-4 ATS), with its only two wins coming against conference bottom-feeders Pittsburgh and Providence. West Virginia has lost 10 straight games in South Bend, with its last win coming all the way back in 1996. The Mountaineers are led by the Big East’s leading scorer, 6-foot-8 senior Kevin Jones (20.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG). Jones is a matchup nightmare for undersized teams like Notre Dame, with an ability to beat opponents down low in the post or from the perimeter stroking threes. Jones scored 14 points (6-for-15 FG) and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Feb. 8 loss to the Irish, and coach Bob Huggins will need him and forward Deniz Kilicli (11.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG) to crash the boards and limit Notre Dame’s second-chance opportunities. The Mountaineers rank 23rd in the nation in rebound margin (+6.0 RPG) and if the Irish get cold from the perimeter, WVU has a great chance to pull off the upset with its inside scoring presence. This FoxSheets trend also sides with the Mountaineers.
WEST VIRGINIA is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) after failing to cover 5 or 6 of their last 7 against the spread over the last 3 seasons. The average score was WEST VIRGINIA 69.1, OPPONENT 56.7 - (Rating = 1*).
The Irish are the surprise story of the Big East this season. Even with Abromaitis in the lineup, Notre Dame was projected to finish ninth in the conference. Without him, they are doing just fine, using solid defense to grind opponents down with long possessions, draining timely baskets. The Fighting Irish are 7-1 ATS over their eight-game winning streak, most recently coming back from 20 points down to defeat Villanova 74-70 in overtime on the road. The Irish sank nine of their 12 three-pointers in the second half to complete the impressive comeback. Pat Connaughton scored all of his team-high 21 points from behind the arc (7-for-13). Notre Dame will need another big game from 6-foot-9 forward Jack Cooley (12.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG) inside against West Virginia’s physical front line. Cooley has posted a double-double in four consecutive games dating back to the win in Morgantown, including an 18-point, 13 rebound performance (8-for-11 FG) against Villanova. He’s averaging a robust 20.8 PPG on 73% FG, with 14.3 RPG in this four-game stretch. This FoxSheets trend also likes the Irish to win and cover on Wednesday.
NOTRE DAME is 7-0 ATS (+7.0 Units) in home games on Wednesday games over the last 3 seasons. The average score was NOTRE DAME 79.6, OPPONENT 59.3 - (Rating = 2*).