The crazy sports calendar of 2020 continues this week when college basketball makes its return.
Although it feels like ages ago, some may remember that last season was just reaching its peak when COVID-19 struck.
With teams getting ready for conference tournaments leading up to the Big Dance, the entire season was shut down. Unlike most other sports, college basketball never got a chance to return.
This meant teams like WVU would not get the opportunity to play in March Madness. Last season was the first that a national champion was not crowned since 1939.
Of course, this news was just as depressing for fans and West Virginia sportsbooks.
The NCAA Tournament is one of the most wagered on sporting events every year, and books weren’t able to capitalize on it at all.
Unfortunately, this new season is opening up under similar circumstances. The coronavirus is surging around the country once again, and this is creating plenty of issues at college campuses.
Still, the college basketball season tips off on Wednesday with an abundance of action.
The WVU Mountaineers face off against South Dakota State in the opening round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic. The tournament features eight teams and will take place from Nov. 25-27.
WVU’s first game is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Mountaineers fans have a busy week ahead as WVU football is also in action on Saturday. It takes on No. 14 Oklahoma at home this weekend with hopes of improving to 6-3.
WVU had its other bye last week, while the Sooners are coming off an emotional victory against Oklahoma State.
According to the online sports betting apps in the Mountain State, WVU is receiving about 10 points in the spread.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about the upcoming season for WVU basketball and preview Saturday’s football game against OU.
WVU basketball 2020 preview
The end of the 2019 campaign was especially sour for coach Bob Huggins and his team because the Mountaineers were a lock for the postseason.
Regardless of how they performed in the Big 12 Tournament, WVU was ready to punch another ticket to the main event.
The Mountaineers went 21-10 overall a year ago, with a 9-9 mark in the conference. This was good enough for a third-place finish, behind only Kansas and Baylor.
While the Mountaineers certainly struggled in the month of February, they were 2-0 in March, including a win over No. 4 Baylor.
Despite the fact that we’ll never know how last year might have gone, the 2020 team returns a lot of familiar faces.
WVU is actually bringing back its top three leading scorers from the previous season. Forwards Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver and guard Miles McBride are all back and should be vital parts of this year’s team.
Combined, the three averaged over 31 points per game last season. They are a big part of why the Mountaineers are ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll to start off the year.
While Tshiebwe was solid throughout the season, there is hope that he can bring his game to the next level. Besides leading the Mountaineers in scoring, the freshman was also the top rebounder and shot blocker.
At 6’ 9”, 260 pounds, Tshiebwe is a force on both ends of the court and will be the focus of most oppositions. If he can become a more consistent scorer, then WVU could be a real threat down the stretch.
In his last 10 contests, Tshiebwe reached double-digit points in seven of them.
Naturally, the Big 12 is one of the strongest conferences in college basketball again. Five total teams are represented in the Top 25, including No. 2 Baylor, No. 6 Kansas, and No. 14 Texas Tech.
While winning the conference title could be a difficult task, a tough schedule could prime the Mountaineers for a deep run in March Madness.
WVU football vs. Oklahoma
On the gridiron, the Mountaineers still have two regular-season games remaining before a potential bowl. This week, they host 6-2 Oklahoma with intentions of dashing the Sooners’ hopes of a conference championship.
At the moment, OU sits at 5-2 in the Big 12, behind Iowa State at 6-1.
Following a tough start to the season that saw it drop two of its first three, Oklahoma has won five straight and is looking like the team we thought it’d be.
After beating Texas in a close one, the Sooners have blown out their last four opponents. They won their last two games over Kansas and Oklahoma State by a combined score of 103-22.
Oklahoma’s offense has been one of the best for several years now thanks in large part to creative head coach Lincoln Riley. He’s groomed some of the most successful college quarterbacks over the last few seasons like Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
This season, Riley has the electric freshman Spencer Rattler under center. He’s thrown for over 2,300 yards and 22 touchdowns while completing more than 68% of his passes.
Rattler has more than enough weapons on the outside and in the backfield.
Four Sooners, including Rattler, have at least 50 rushing attempts on the year.
Oklahoma spreads the ball around to its receivers, too. Nine total players have at least 10 receptions, led by freshman Marvin Mims and sophomore Theo Wease with 28.
Mims also leads his team in receiving yards with 483 and touchdowns with seven.
Defensively, linebackers Brian Asamoah and Nik Bonitto are two of the Sooners’ best. Asamoah is their leading tackler with 48 on the season, whereas Bonitto’s 6.5 sacks are tops for the team.
ESPN’s Football Power Index doesn’t like the Mountaineers’ chances, giving them just a 26% shot of winning Saturday.
Betting odds at WV sportsbooks
People located in WV can wager on the Mountaineers’ football and basketball games through any online platform offered in the state.
Currently, you can choose from the following options:
Additionally, more online sportsbooks are on the way. Golden Nugget just agreed to partner with The Greenbrier in order to launch its sports betting app in the WV market.
According to DraftKings, here are the odds for the WVU Mountaineers this week:
- WVU -9
- Moneyline: -480
- South Dakota State +9
- Moneyline: +350
- WVU +10.5
- Moneyline: +310
- Oklahoma -10.5
- Moneyline: -500
- Over 54.5 (-107)
- Under 54.5 (-113)