Editor’s Note: The Big 12 Conference on Thursday announced the cancellation of its basketball championships.
Finishing in the middle of the Big 12 Conference probably wasn’t what the West Virginia University men’s basketball team had in mind for the 2019-20 regular season. Although, its final contests spoke to what tournament time could look like for the Mountaineers.
WVU hoops is bringing some late-season momentum into the Big 12 Tournament.
If the Mountaineers can extend that into a solid showing in Kansas City, that would go a long way to putting them where they want to be when March Madness kicks off.
How the Big 12 Tournament field shapes up
The Mountaineers come to the Sprint Center as the sixth seed, avoiding playing on Thursday. WVU is set for a Friday night showdown with third-seeded Oklahoma.
The Sooners won both meetings with the Mountaineers during the regular season. Those games were part of an abysmal 1-6 stretch to finish February.
Perhaps no team in the conference was more happy to see the calendar turn to March. WVU played a markedly improved game at Iowa State and then dispatched Baylor in its home and regular-season finale.
They could face the second-seeded Bears again on Saturday, should Baylor win its Friday game against the winner of Thursday’s Kansas State–TCU contest.
When the Mountaineers take the court they will know who their opponent will be, as WVU plays the final game of the quarterfinal round.
Facing down Oklahoma and defeating the Bears twice within a week’s time is a tall order. However, reaching the tournament final would be a big boost to the Mountaineers’ seeding for the more important tourney, however.
Where WVU hoops currently sits for March Madness
Some prominent bracketologists currently have WVU sitting as high as a six seed. That’s of course prior to the team’s showing in Kansas City this week.
If the Mountaineers are beaten by the Sooners for the third time this year, expect that seeding to slip some. It could be that WVU ends up on the opposite side of that 6-11 matchup somewhere.
At the same time, a win on Friday would substantiate that the Mountaineers have turned a corner from that horrid late February run. While it might result in a just a modest gain in seeding, perhaps vaulting them up to a five seed, WVU shouldn’t slip below a six.
Two wins, especially if that comes at the Bears’ expense on Saturday, might just be enough to put the Mountaineers in the tourney’s top 16 overall seeds. It would be a great signature win.
Even if WVU turns around and loses to top-seeded Kansas in the Big 12 tournament final, such a loss shouldn’t hurt them much. Of course, Mountaineer fans would prefer to see their team hoist a trophy.
Regardless of how far WV progresses, West Virginia sports betting fans can feel like winners if they place smart wagers. WV sports betting apps in the state are prepared to accommodate.
Current lines on WV at in-state online sportsbooks
FanDuel Sportsbook, on the other hand, deviates a little by giving Texas Tech slightly shorter odds to hoist the hardware in KC this week. At that book, WVU is +900 to do the same.
FanDuel also gives the Mountaineers the longest odds to win the NCAA tournament right now at +4500. BetMGM and DraftKings both peg WVU +4000 in the same market.
Although none of the books have lines on Friday’s game against Oklahoma yet, that should change later in the week. Expect the Sooners to open as a favorite but with a modest spread and a low point total.
The Mountaineers have a great shot to legitimize themselves as one of the NCAA tournament’s top 16 seeds if they can reach the Big 12 tournament final. To do that, they will have to avoid their Ides of February.