While a lot of Mountain State bettors might be looking forward to Tuesday night’s showdown of the top two men’s basketball teams in the Big 12 Conference, the WVU men’s squad has some work to do prior to that engagement. West Virginia basketball odds favor the Mountaineers to dismiss Iowa State easily on Friday.
If the eighth-ranked WVU men do so, it will be because they press their considerable advantages on the boards and defending the basket. The Cyclones‘ hopes to pull off the massive upset seem to lie in their point guard’s hands.
Full odds for upcoming college games at WV online sportsbooks:
Looking at the latest West Virginia basketball odds
While WV bettors might be saving their dollars for Tuesday’s Big 12 tilt against the fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, that game will lose some of its pizzazz if an upset occurs Friday. The moneyline on this game isn’t worth any more consideration than just a flyer.
All five WV online sportsbooks have the Mountaineers as a 15.5-point favorite Friday. The game, which will be in Morgantown and broadcast on ESPNU at 9 p.m. ET, is the first since Sunday for WVU.
It’s the third true home game of the season for the Mountaineers, where they’re looking to earn three consecutive wins to start off the 2020-21 season. This is the first conference game of the season for WVU, however.
Iowa State comes in at 1-3 overall. The Cyclones have only played one true road game to date in the season, with that being a 105-77 drubbing by their in-state rivals, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
This will be the second Big 12 game for Iowa State. They hosted Kansas State on Tuesday, a game they lost 74-65. Playing at the WVU Coliseum on the last day of the traditional workweek has been a bad omen for Mountaineer opponents of late.
WVU has won 11 of its last 12 home games on Fridays outright. Making that 12 of 13 could require taking advantage of the Cyclones’ sloth in getting going, as the Cyclones have lost the first half in every game so far this season.
The Mountaineers have won four of the past five meetings with Iowa State, including all three of their meetings in Morgantown. The average margin of victory in those games was 15.34 points, so the spread has landed just about there.
Will WVU actually cover, though? That depends on their ability to limit the production of Cyclones guard Rasir Bolton. Iowa State’s ability to cover depends on him.
Numbers don’t lie, especially when it comes to sports betting
Bolton is shooting an impressive 59.1% from the field while leading the Cyclones in both assists per game (six) and points per game (15.8). He’s scored in double figures in all four of ISU’s games so far, but he’s not an unstoppable force.
Bolton is only shooting 70% from the free-throw line so far. While 10 attempts is a small sample, he does lead Iowa State in free throw attempts on the season.
A strategy that could give bettors who take the WVU spread a win is to force ISU to look elsewhere for its offense and when Bolton does create some for himself, put him at the line. The rest of the Cyclones are shooting just 44.3% from the field so far this season.
The Mountaineers can help their case by limiting Iowa State’s possessions as well. WVU averages 12 more rebounds per game than the Cyclones. The total for this game expects a bit of a slowdown in the action.
Mountaineers games have averaged 145.3 points to date on the season. The Mountaineers’ past two home games have produced 135 points on average, though the first of those was a last-minute affair against North Texas scheduled on the fly after the intended home opener against Robert Morris was canceled.
ISU and WVU average a combined 149.4 points so far. With the total line ranging from 144.5 to 146.5 depending on the operator, taking the over or the under swings on whether bettors believe the Mountaineers will be able to build a comfortable lead early in this game and then cruise through the second half as they did against North Texas last week.
The numbers suggest that’s a possibility. A different story — of WVU getting caught looking ahead to its showdown with Kansas — also could happen here, however.