West Virginia @ Texas Christian January 22 Free Pick

By College Basketball

West Virginia smacked Texas over the weekend while Texas Christian lost another tough game on the road at Kansas State. The Mountaineers are looking to keep pace with the big shots in the Big-12, while the Horned Frogs are just looking to get back into the race when they square off from Fort Worth on Big Monday.

Free Pick

Saturday was an ideal matchup for West Virginia against Texas. The Longhorns’ offense is weak and failed to put one scorer in double-figures. The Mountaineers turned them over 15 times, which led to run-outs for WVU. It made 12 of its 23 three-point attempts, many of which came in transition.

I really like West Virginia’s team but I do sense that it is missing a playmaker. Jevon Carter is a really good offensive player but he’s being asked to do too much on this team in terms of playmaking. The Mountaineers have guys who can hit shots and finish in transition but not really another guy who is great at getting his own shot in the half court. Not even Carter is fantastic in that department.

West Virginia’s best offense is its defense. When the Mountaineers can get out and run, they are at their best. But boxing them in the half court on offense gives an opponent multiple advantages. First, it’s a whole lot easier to defend the Mountaineers when they are slowed down and in front of you. Second, if you get stops you can run on them and deny their biggest advantage, which is the full-court press. Boxing them in on offense starts with scoring on offense. It’s one big cycle, score on offense, box them in on their offensive turn, get a stop and repeat. If West Virginia forces turnovers, it leads to easy buckets and gives it a chance to set up the press. You can see why West Virginia is such a streaky team within games. The tide can turn quickly.

I like TCU’s offense. Who doesn’t? The Horned Frogs’ four highest-scorers all shoot well over 40 percent from beyond the arc. As a team, it shoots over 50 percent from the field and 40 from three. There are shooters all over the floor, which is the start of any great offense. The outside shooting is the focal point of the offense and because of that, the turnovers are relatively few (12 per game). What the Frogs have to look out for are long rebounds off of long misses because West Virginia is going to look to run.

But if there’s a team that’s going to control how the game is played, it’s the home team. TCU isn’t a bad team, though it’s had a bad start to conference play. The Horned Frogs are certainly far from out of contention for the NCAA Tournament and every game in the Big-12 offers another opportunity to get a signature win. This would be a big one and I think TCU is up for the challenge.

Free Pick: Texas Christian +1

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