The magical start to the 2019 season rolls on for the WVU Mountaineers basketball team.
Coach Huggins and his squad from Morgantown upset the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes thanks to an amazing second-half effort.
Freshman Miles McBride surprisingly led the Mountaineers off the bench with 21 points. He hit six of 12 shots and three from beyond the arc to improve WVU’s record to 11-1 on the season.
After trailing by six heading into the break, the Mountaineers played an amazing second half and outscored the Buckeyes by 14. It is the fourth-straight win since taking their only loss of the year to St. John’s.
It’s sweet 16 for WVU Hoops – at least for now
This massive road victory boosted WVU’s ranking from 22nd to 16th in this week’s AP Top 25. Ohio State dropped down to No. 5 with its second defeat.
WVU was outstanding defensively, forcing OSU to commit 22 turnovers. The Mountaineers only allowed 22 points in the second half after giving up 37 in the first.
McBride’s season-high for points was crucial in a game where WVU didn’t get as much scoring from its usual contributors. In fact, the team’s bench outscored the starting unit with 45 total points.
Senior Chase Harler poured in 10 points too, as the Mountaineers continue to hold their lead at the top of the Big 12 Conference.
Things don’t get any easier going forward, though. On Saturday, WVU will travel to Allen Fieldhouse to battle the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
Although college football bowl season is nearly complete, West Virginia sportsbooks are seeing plenty of betting on college basketball. The Mountaineers’ hot start to 2019 should only continue with more wagers into the New Year.
Even though it comes outside of the conference, WVU’s win over Ohio State will prove to be one of its best for the season. The victory will look quite nice on its tournament resume come March Madness time.
WVU won’t need to worry about earning a bid to the tournament if it keeps winning, though. The Mountaineers are just four wins away from matching last year’s total of 15.
Let’s breakdown their huge win against Ohio State and preview the upcoming matchup with Kansas.
WVU men’s basketball pull off the upset
With only a few minutes remaining in the opening half, it wasn’t looking good for WVU. It was down by nine and had several players already in foul trouble.
The impressive freshman Oscar Tshiebwe was the most notable player limited by fouls. He was held scoreless in only eight minutes due to four untimely personals.
Coach Huggins knew his team could do better than it showed early on. According to the Associated Press, he said:
“I wasn’t very happy with them at halftime because I didn’t think we played as hard as they did and we got in foul trouble. Then they came out in the second half and played as well as we’ve played defensively all year.”
While McBride and Harler led WVU in scoring, a bunch of Mountaineers chipped in. Five players had at least five points, including starters Derek Culver and Emmitt Matthews Jr..
Culver also brought down 10 rebounds to lead the team once again.
It wasn’t an easy win, but the Mountaineers will take it anyway they can. The victory is Huggins’ 19th over a top 10 team as WVU’s head coach.
Twelve Mountaineers saw playing time as this was the epitome of a team performance.
While they struggled from the free-throw line, the team shot well everywhere else. They shot over 40% from the field overall, as well as eight of 20 from deep.
It was a massive win for the program and should create the perfect momentum heading into conference play.
WVU basketball betting predictions
Even though WVU is riding a high, it will need to remain focused in order to compete in its next game. The Mountaineers will start off 2020 heading to Lawrence for a matchup with the Big-12 favorite Jayhawks.
Kansas will enter this one with a 10-2 record. It lost its opener to Duke and then dropped a heartbreaker on the road at Villanova. In between losses, the Jayhawks won nine straight including a victory over No. 20 Colorado.
KU won its last game, beating Stanford on the road, 72-56.
The Jayhawks are led by a great inside-outside combination. Guard Devon Dotson averages nearly 19 points and five assists along with over two steals per contest.
He’s complemented by senior big man Udoka Azubuike. The seven-footer is averaging:
- 13 points
- 9 boards
- Almost two blocks
Guards Ochai Agbaji and Marcus Garrett are also key components. They each average more than 28 minutes per game while shooting over 47% from the floor.
Of course this won’t be an easy afternoon for the Mountaineers, but this game is happening at the perfect time. The team has all the confidence in the world and will not be intimidated going against a highly ranked opponent.
It also helps that this game is being played in early January. With the schedule just starting conference games, Kansas might be more susceptible to a home loss before it’s firing on all cylinders later in the season.
Even with the holidays creating longer breaks between games this time of year, coach Bill Self will have his guys ready. He’s been to the Final Four three times, including in 2008 when KU won it all.
Winning back-to-back games against the top five teams would be an incredible accomplishment for WVU. While fans will be disappointed with a loss, it wouldn’t be uncommon for the Mountaineers to be a little sluggish following such a big win.
If they are able to prevail, however, it would be one of the best starts for WVU in recent years.
Betting odds at WV sportsbooks
Since the game isn’t until the weekend, the online sports betting apps available in the Mountain State don’t have any betting lines up yet. These will release later in the week on both mobile options:
Unfortunately for WVU backers, ESPN’s Basketball Power Index is only giving the Mountaineers a 17% chance to return home at 12-1.
Regardless of what happens against Kansas, sportsbooks in WV took notice of the great performance by this talented WVU Hoops team. The team’s odds shifted substantially at DraftKings after its quality upset.
According to both online platforms, here are the Mountaineers’ current futures odds:
|DraftKings Sportsbook||FanDuel Sportsbook|
|Big 12 Conference Champion||+600||+700|
|Final Four Appearance||+900||+900|
|Updated: Jan. 6, 2019|