No. 8 Kansas at No. 21 West Virginia
Daxter Miles, Jr.
▪ WHEN/WHERE: 8 p.m. Monday at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va.
▪ TV/RADIO: ESPN; KCSP (610 AM)
▪ ABOUT KANSAS (21-4, 10-2): The Jayhawks are a perfect 12-0 at Allen Fieldhouse this season, including a 6-0 record during Big 12 play. But it’s Kansas’ road record that has it positioned to claim an 11th straight Big 12 title. The Jayhawks are 4-2 on the road entering Monday night’s game at West Virginia. If they can win at least one more road game — they also have trips to K-State and Oklahoma remaining — they will clinch a winning record on the road in conference. By comparison: Only Oklahoma (3-4) and West Virginia (3-3) have even notched three road victories in the Big 12. After Oklahoma’s loss at K-State on Saturday, the Jayhawks hold a three-game lead over the Sooners and a two-game lead over Iowa State, which sits at 8-4. The Jayhawks’ magic number to claim at least a share of the Big 12 title is four; they can do so with four more victories or perhaps get there quicker if Iowa State loses another game this week. The Cyclones travel to Oklahoma State on Wednesday and play at Texas on Saturday. While the Jayhawks still have work to do if they want to win the Big 12 outright, they are also positioned to land a high seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong finish. For now, most NCAA Tournament projections have the Jayhawks as a No. 2 seed. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, who runs the Bracketology feature, projects Kansas as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region.
▪ ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (19-6, 7-5): The Mountaineers enter Monday in a bit of a slide after a dynamic start in the Big 12. After opening conference play with a 6-2 mark, West Virginia has lost three of four, including a home loss to Baylor and a road loss at Iowa State on Saturday. Still, the Mountaineers are tracking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011-12 under eighth-year coach Bob Huggins. West Virginia has mostly won with defense and a suffocating full-court press. The Mountaineers have generated turnovers on nearly 30 percent of opponents’ possessions, which is No. 1 in the country. And their overall defensive efficiency ranks 25th in the country, according to KenPom.com. But West Virginia has also been offensively challenged. The Mountaineers shoot just 29.9 percent from three-point range, which ranks 315th in the country. Senior point guard Juwan Staten, who averaged 18.1 points per game last season, is scoring 14.3 points per contest while shooting 41 percent from the floor. Sophomore big man Devin Williams, a former top-100 recruit, is the only other Mountaineer averaging double figures, scoring 11.4 points per game. West Virginia is 1-3 all-time against Kansas, with every matchup coming since the school joined the Big 12 in 2012-13. The only victory came last year in Morgantown, when West Virginia won 92-86 despite 41 points from Andrew Wiggins.
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com