West Virginia at Baylor Betting Preview, Selection, Odds

Game: West Virginia at Baylor (-5.5)

Sharp: Dave Miller

Selection: West Virginia (+5.5)

No. 14 West Virginia (18-6, 6-5 Big 12) takes on No. 1 Baylor (22-1, 11-0) at Ferrell Center in Waco on Saturday in the first matchup of the season between the squads and in the Big 12's marquee game of the weekend.

The last time we saw the Mountaineers, they allowed Kansas to close the game with a 9-0 run to steal a 58-49 win in Morgantown. WVU led by as many as nine points in each half and lost at home for the first time this season.

The Mountaineers are skidding, having lost two straight and now facing the top-ranked team in the country on the road. Bob Huggins and Co. were as high as No. 12 in the AP Top 25 poll but will fall again unless it can upset the Bears. The ‘Neers will need to be at their very best defensively, take care of the basketball and have better shot selection—areas that failed them late against the Jayhawks. WVU failed to connect on a field goal over the final six minutes in the loss, and shot below 32 percent from the floor for the second time in three games.

Meanwhile, the first-place Bears held Texas to just 16 first-half points in a 52-45 road win in the team's last contest—their 21st straight victory, which is one shy of the Big 12 record set by Kansas in 1997. Despite putting up its lowest point total of the season and shooting only 34 percent, Baylor used its stout defense and a 13-0 run in the second half to take control and chalk up another W. Scott Drew's Bears have one of the best defenses in the country, so it wouldn't be a shock to see this game against the ‘Neers turn into a bit of a slugfest.

Despite being No. 1, Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, Freddie Gillespie and Co. have battled stretches of inconsistent offense and turnovers recently. However, the Bears have shined for the most part in their toughest games in wins against Villanova, Arizona, Butler, Kansas, Texas Tech and Florida.

West Virginia has lost three in a row away from home, and Huggins is still trying to tie Dean Smith for sixth among Division I coaches with 879 victories. The Mountaineers are striving for that signature conference win after non-con victories over Ohio State and Texas Tech as they look to improve their seeding for the Big Dance after back-to-back losses.

Meanwhile, the Bears haven't lost since their second game of the season against Washington when they led by three with less than two minutes remaining. In a season that has certainly been a bit wild across the country, it appears that Baylor may indeed be the nation's best. But the Bears may meet their defensive match in this one, which is why taking the Mountaineers and the points would be wise.


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