by Zack Lambert
TCU at #12 West Virginia
Spread: West Virginia (-7.5)
Time/Location: 9:00 ET, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, West Virginia
TCU (12-3 3-0)
TCU missed the tournament last year, not exactly something that surprises many fans, but considering the Horned Frogs were ranked in the preseason, it was a disappointment. Things seem to be different this season, however, as the Horned Frogs have impressed this year; two of their three losses have been 2-point games to Clemson and USC.
TCU has beat teams with the defense this season and have seemed to adopt a bit of a Virginia 3-and-D approach. Jamie Dixon’s team are allowing 60.2 PPG which is 21st in the country. They’re also shooting the 88th most 3s in the country and hit them at the 48th highest rate in college basketball. You might think that could power them towards a better offense than 177th overall, but their lack of interior presence isn’t great.
Outside of the defense and perimeter shooting TCU is still very solid in the fundamentals. They don’t turn the ball over often, they pass very well, and they block shots without fouling. Their lack of driving and drawing fouls is an issue as TCU is 341st in free throws attempted. That’s a valuable asset that they lack in crunch time that could come back to bite them.
West Virginia (13-2, 2-1)
West Virginia have yet to lose at home this season as Bob Huggins has put together another strong group that has bought into his scheme. The Mountaineers have amassed wins over Wichita State, Ohio State, and Texas Tech, their only losses have come at St. John’s and at Kansas.
Forward tandem Oscar Tshiebwe and Derek Culver are both averaging over 10 PPG and 9 RPG while providing exceptional defense. Their defense is a product of Huggins system which allowed less than 60 PPG, good for 19th in the country. They constrict the passing lanes and force some of the worst shooting percentages in the country. They’re 2nd in opposing 3P%, 3rd in opposing FG%, and 18th in opposing 2P%. West Virginia lacks a Wooden Award candidate but their team defense can cause issues for any college offense in the nation.
Analysis and Pick
This is a really interesting matchup to me because both teams are stellar on the defensive end of the court but TCU is clearly a better offensive team. West Virginia’s defense will have one of their tougher assignments of the season to date when they take on the Horned Frogs. They hit a lot of 3s and that can overwhelm even a great defense. I expect TCU to keep it close and cover the spread.
I really like the under for this game for obvious reasons. The defense for both teams is just incredible and defense generally travels. The shooting of TCU could be affected by the hostile West Virginia environment and WVU just isn’t a good scoring team in the first place. Expect a slow pace of play and great defense to limit the points. Take the under.