The WVU Mountaineers basketball team did not disappoint in their first game action of the new season. They swept their opening three games en route to capturing the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic title.
WVU vs. Gonzaga preview
The quality showing from WVU moved it up to No. 11 in the AP Top 25 this week. This ranking will be put to the test immediately, as it potentially faces its most difficult opponent of the season.
WVU is now participating in the annual Jimmy V Classic because Tennessee was forced to stop team activities due to positive cases for COVID-19.
This is a great opportunity for Coach Bob Huggins’ team to play some very talented schools that it may not usually face otherwise.
On Wednesday night, the Mountaineers will battle No. 1 Gonzaga. Here are odds for the game:
The top-ranked Bulldogs are loaded this year and already have some solid wins under their belt. They defeated No. 6 Kansas by 12, before taking out Auburn by 23 in the Fort Myers Tip-Off.
Gonzaga has been a top-tier program for a while now; however, it might have its best chance at winning a title this year. Head coach Mark Few has more than enough skilled players to make a deep run in this season’s March Madness.
Through the two games, he features two players who are averaging more than 24 points.
Sophomore forward Drew Timme leads the way after scoring 25 and 28 points in Gonzaga’s first two wins. Senior forward Corey Kispert is off to a similar start, with 23 and 25-point scoring outputs.
The Bulldogs’ backcourt isn’t too shabby, either. Guards Jalen Suggs and Joel Ayayi each average over 10 points per game, while Suggs is the team leader in assists and Ayayi is tied for the lead in rebounds.
Although this will certainly be a tough matchup, it’s a massive opportunity for the Mountaineers. If they can knock off the top team in the nation, then they’ll be regarded as one of the favorites to win the Big 12 Conference.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index sees this game being tight. It gives WVU about a 42% chance of coming away with a victory.
NCAA basketball betting odds at WV sportsbooks
Betting on college basketball in WV is now easier than ever in the Mountain State. Residents can download any of the WV online sports betting apps that are available and wager right from their own home.
Here are the odds for upcoming games:
WV basketball wrap-up
WVU defeated Western Kentucky 70-64 to earn the crown on Friday after getting three wins in three days.
Junior forward Derek Culver was announced as the MVP for the tournament. After three games, he’s averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting about 53%.
Despite being the favorite in the final, things didn’t come easy for the Mountaineers. With less than 15 minutes remaining in the game, they found themselves down by 10 points.
Then after regaining the lead, WKU made things very interesting down the stretch. The Hilltoppers scored with just under a minute remaining to cut the lead to only four.
Fortunately, the Mountaineers converted some clutch free throws in the final moments to solidify the tournament victory.
WVU coach Bob Huggins was pleased with his team’s finish following a sluggish first half. According to the Associated Press, he said:
“I think we took some things for granted and didn’t play as hard. We talked to them at halftime about how much harder we have to play and how much better we need to execute what we’re doing.”
WVU was down by three at the break, but proceeded to outscore its opponent 37-28 in the second half.
Not only did the win move WVU to 3-0 in the young season, but it helped backers win their bets at West Virginia sportsbooks.
The Mountaineers were laying -5 in the point spread, so their six-point triumph was just enough to get the job done.
Let’s take a deeper look at how WVU fared in the Crossover Classic and preview its next few games for this week.
WVU Wins Crossover Classic
The Mountaineers got their season underway last Wednesday night with an eight-point win over South Dakota State.
Even though they were favored by more than 10 points, they struggled to get going. WVU actually trailed with just seven minutes remaining in the first half.
While the game was much closer than they would have liked, the Mountaineers got some great performances to grab their first victory.
Sophomore guard Miles McBride led all players with 23 points, and senior Taz Sherman shined off the bench.
Sherman was four of six from deep, and totaled 14 points in 25 minutes.
WVU’s win the following day was a little less stressful. It took down VCU by 12, thanks in part to a massive rebound disparity. The Mountaineers collected 14 more boards than the Rams and were in control for the majority of the game.
After a limited night in the first game because of foul trouble, sophomore Oscar Tshiebwe was a monster in this one. He secured 16 total rebounds, while adding 11 points and a block.
Culver had an even bigger evening. He was the game’s top scorer with 23 points, but he also recorded 15 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
The Mountaineers used a lot of the same formula to beat Western Kentucky to win the final game of the tournament. They outrebounded the Hilltoppers by six and played lots of tremendous defense.
WKU was held to just 24% shooting from beyond the arc, and only shot eight free throws.
Culver, McBride and Sherman combined for 41 points, while WVU received another scoring boost off the bench.
After contributing only four points in the first two contests, senior Gabe Osabuohien had eight points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists in the final.