Hello, fellow Beadlemaniacs! Tonight we have a great night as rivalry week officially kicks off. In the first game, Villanova and West Virginia, who practically are neighbors I guess, meet in a marquee Big East matchup.
Villanova and West Virginia are both teams with great offenses and not as good defenses. West Virginia’s defense is still good, ranked 2nd in the Big East, but it is overshadowed by the 4th best offense in the nation. However, due to the pace at which they play I am guessing the number of times you will hear their offense called elite will be less than 1.
Devin Ebanks is the player who gets the most ink for the Mountaineers, but he’s not even the best Sophomore on his team. Kevin Jones has the country’s 12th best O-rating if you include people with >16% of possessions used. Da’sean Butler has been great for the Mountaineers as well. In the end I am going to take the Mountaineers to win by 5-10 pts at home.
In the nightcap, perhaps the best matchup in the Big 12 conference takes place as Kansas visits Texas, where they haven’t won since 2002. The Jayhawks sit fairly comfortably at #1 in the KenPom ratings, due mostly to the #2 offense in the country. But it is their defense that Bill Self harps on. While Kansas has faced good three point shooting teams, their 2 point defense is the best in the country. They have finished in the top 10 every year since 2005, and the top 4 every year since 2006. As we all know, two point defense is more of a skill than 3 point defense, so expect the Jayhawks to trend upwards as the year goes on.
Texas has been hitting the skids lately, and actually sit in a tie for 4th in the Big 12. A loss tonight, and they could struggle to get a bye in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. Damion James is undoubtedly their best player, but there hasn’t been a ton of support behind him. Dexter Pittman gets a lot of pub, but he’s not even playing in half of Texas’s minutes this year. Obviously Texas has struggled with free throw shooting this year (61%, 336th nationally) so in a close game, the advantage goes to their opponents.
The big key to this game will be how Avery Bradley and Dogus Balbay stop Sherron Collins from getting into the lane, and how Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins will matchup against James and Pittman. Austin has been a house of horrors for Kansas lately, and your guess is as good as mine as to how tonight’s game will shake out.
Enjoy the games, folks.