College Basketball Game of the Week: West Virginia vs. Baylor
The Big 12 has shown out as one of the elite conferences in college basketball this season.
This top-10 matchup between the No. 10 West Virginia Mountaineers try to dethrone the No. 2 Baylor Bears from the top of the conference lead. Defeating a team at home is a tall task in this league, but to give the second ranked team in the nation their first loss this season adds to the job.
Starting with head coach Bob Huggins’ team, the Mountaineers are coming off an emotional win against the No. 12 Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns took the first game from West Virginia, so that win was extra sweet for the team.
West Virginia manages to hold opponents to 72.4 points per game and puts up 77.8 points per game. However, the Baylor Bears can score and defend, as they score 87 points per game and contain opponents to 62.8 points per game.
For the Mountaineers, they present a dynamic duo that is slowly starting to take over the conference. Guard Miles McBride and forward Derek Culver lead the charge, considering they lead the team in all five statistical categories.
West Virginia has versatile scoring, considering its roster consists of four players scoring double-digit points on average. The team manages to shoot 34.2 percent from the floor while hitting 37.4 percent of their shots behind the arc.
Bob Huggins’ defense is called “Press Virginia” for a reason. Their constant pressure on defense, whether full court or in the half court set, causes bad shots and turnovers, which leads to 38.9 rebounds per game and 6.8 steals per game for the Mountaineers.
On the other side of the court, Baylor has proven time and time again why it is one of the best teams in the nation. The Bears have been winning games, and they have been winning them in style.
It all starts with guard Jared Butler, who has been a force on both offense and defense for the Bears. Butler puts up 17 points per game while also creating 2.4 steals per game. His defensive pressure and style of play has put him into conversations as the defensive player of the year.
Alongside Butler is a plethora of playmakers, including guards Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague, Mark Vital and forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Their depth and talent has made Baylor major threats in March.
The Bears’ offense fires on all cylinders, managing to convert 50.7 percent of their shots from the field. Baylor can score from anywhere on the court, especially from behind the arc as the Bears hit 43.9 percent from three.
Scott Drew’s defensive schemes managed to produce 9.7 steals a game and forced 17 turnovers a game, which ranks fifth in the nation and first among Power 5 teams. As a conference built on close games and scoring the basketball, Baylor has decided to have team defense win championships, and so far, it looks like it is paying off.
With the Mountaineers high octane offense going up against the potent Baylor defense, this game is going to be a classic battle tothe end. Both teams can manage to score points from all areas of the floor, but the main thing that will stand out from this game will be team defense. Who will manage to create more turnovers and who can get physical enough to clean the glass more than the other?
Baylor has been a dominant force in all assets, so it is hard to see them fall to West Virginia. They find a way to contain their star players enough for the supporting cast to be the main producer for Bob Huggins’ team.
Baylor continues its winning ways in Waco.
Prediciton: Baylor 75, West Virginia 67
Jonathan Draeger is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Third Year / Broadcast Journalism