Remember all that talk about the Mountaineers men’s basketball team struggling to close out the regular season and in the Big 12 tournament? Yeah, that doesn’t matter now. All that matters for interested bettors is WVU vs. Syracuse on Sunday night.
West Virginia not only prevailed against Morehead State on Friday but also covered the spread at WV sportsbooks. That game went comfortably over the total as well. So, do Derek Culver and the rest of the team have it in them to do it again?
A much tighter spread for WVU vs. Syracuse on Sunday
WV sports betting apps like BetMGM Sportsbook WV do favor West Virginia to move on to the Sweet 16 against either the Midwest Region‘s second seed Houston or 10th-seeded Rutgers. While WVU was a 12.5-point favorite coming into Friday, the spread here is just 3.5 points.
The Orange upset the San Diego Aztecs by an impressive 16 points to advance. These two teams have never met in men’s March Madness play before. The last time they met in regular-season action was Jan. 28, 2012, when Syracuse defended its home court against the Mountaineers 63-61.
Neither played a team from the other’s conference this season. The Orange went 6-1 in nonconference games during the regular season but only played one of those games against a team from a major conference (Rutgers). That happened all the way back on Dec. 8, and Syracuse lost that road game 79-69.
West Virginia’s schedule was similarly light on major nonconference opponents. Its only such opponent was Florida on Jan. 30. The Mountaineers suffered an 85-80 upset in that contest at home.
WVU is just 8-9 outright coming off a win this season. The Orange are 8-7 in that same category. West Virginia averages nearly two more points per game than Syracuse (77.5-75.9), so a lot of metrics support this tilt being a close one.
It’s up to bettors to decide which team they think will prevail in this tight spread. The data suggests a bit more clarity when it comes to the total for this contest, though.
The sales pitch on the over
William Hill Sportsbook WV has set its line for the total in this game at 147.5 points. Combining the scoring averages for these teams gets you to 153.4. Both teams average allowing around 70 points per game, so if you split the difference, the line is about right, by those measurements.
The question for bettors is whether they think WVU can replicate getting four starters into double figures, with Miles McBride hitting 30. The Orange had a 30-point scorer in their Round of 64 game as well, that being Buddy Boeheim. Two other starters reached double figures for Syracuse in the contest.
The Mountaineers’ victory over Morehead State was more about limiting the Eagles’ chances than contesting shot attempts. Morehead State went 26/50 from the field in the game, including 10/19 from 3-point range.
Syracuse held San Diego State to a lower 35.8% from the field but allowed the Aztecs to take 40 3-point shots. While attempting that volume of shots from downtown isn’t West Virginia’s greatest strength, they did shoot 50% on 18 such attempts Friday.
Should those dynamics occur again Sunday, the over in this game looks good. One more thing that WV college basketball bettors should note is that they have two chances to bet on the Mountaineers on that day, as the women’s team plays just a few hours after this game concludes.