Kansas State vs West Virginia Big 12 Tournament Picks and Predictions: Back to Base Camp

Despite being in an extended freefall, West Virginia's early-season success has buoyed its odds into the Big 12 tournament. As such, our betting picks are taking advantage of an overrated Mountaineers squad and backing the Kansas State Wildcats at -1.

Shawn Wronka - Contributor at Covers.com
Mar 9, 2022 • 09:31 ET • 4 min read
Nijel Pack Kansas State Wildcats College Basketball
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 tournament will kick off today when the West Virginia Mountaineers (15-16, 4-14) tip-off against the Kansas State Wildcats (14-16, 6-12). Both teams have stumbled into the conference tournament, with the Mountaineers losing 14 of their last 16 and the Wildcats being losers of five straight.

But the beauty of March is any team can get hot and make a run, and that will need to be the case for whichever team emerges on Wednesday, given a date with Kansas on Thursday is in the cards for the winner. Which team will put their misfortunes behind them and advance in the Big 12 tournament?

Continue reading for free college basketball betting picks and predictions for the West Virginia vs Kansas State matchup on Wednesday, March 9th.

Kansas State vs West Virginia odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

Kansas State opened as one-point favorites and has stayed at that number. The total opened at 139.5 and moved to 138.5, but has since settled at 139 by the time of this writing.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until tip-off and be sure to check out the full college basketball odds before placing your bets.

Kansas State vs West Virginia predictions

Predictions made on 3/8/2022 at 5:09 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Kansas State vs West Virginia game info

Location: T-Mobile Center, Las Vegas, NV
Date: Wednesday, March-9, 2022
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET

Kansas State at West Virginia betting preview


Kansas State: Markquis Nowell G (Questionable).
West Virginia: No injuries to report.

Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.

Betting trend to know

West Virginia has played 15-5 to the Over in its last 20 games, and Kansas State has played 14-5 to the Over in its last 19. Find more NCAA betting trends for Kansas State vs. West Virginia.

Kansas State vs West Virginia picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

There is no pretty way to put it: both of these teams have stunk out loud. That is especially the case with West Virginia, who managed a 4-14 conference record and finished the year by losing all of those 14 across its last 16 games. To the Mountaineers' credit, they finished the regular season by beating TCU. But college basketball can be a little wonky, and transitive wins and losses hardly apply. More appropriately, the sport is a game of matchups and that doesn't bode particularly well for Bob Huggins and his crew.

Fans and frequent watchers of the Big 12 are very aware of Huggins' patented full-court 1-3-1 trap defense. But so are the coaches and teams of the Big 12, and they have taken advantage of their now extensive experience and knowledge of the scheme. In the 14 losses during this tumultuous stretch the Mountaineers endured to end the season, they have arguably put up just one decent defensive performance: holding Texas Tech to 60 points on February 5th. Outside of that, they've allowed a whopping 78.1 points on average across their 13 other conference losses. Despite all of this, West Virginia is still held in semi-favorable light when it comes to advanced metrics.

When it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency rankings they rank 63rd in KenPom, 62nd in Torvik, and 74th in EvanMiya. How can that be possible? Prior to their 2-14 skid to end the season, the Mountaineers were once 13-2. Their trap scheme feasted on non-conference teams that weren't as familiar with their defense, allowing just 60+ points four times in those 15 games. And since efficiency metrics take into account a team's entire body of work, West Virginia's defensive ratings are still being artificially held up by those performances. And given that the college basketball market is largely driven by metrics like the aforementioned, West Virginia has been largely overvalued over the course of the past few months. After starting 7-5 ATS during non-conference play, it's gone 6-14 ever since Big 12 teams started showing up on its schedule.

The picture doesn't get any prettier when we look at the specifics of the matchup. Kansas State ranks first in the Big 12 in 3-point volume (24.2 attempts per game) and second in 3-point efficiency (35.3%). Those efforts are largely led by leading scorer Nijel Pack (17.4 ppg), who is shooting 43.6% from deep on 7.5 attempts per game. West Virginia is just average at limiting the volume (20.0 attempts per game) but second-worst at defending them (35.0% allowed).

And to state the obvious, West Virginia's trap defense is all about pressuring teams into making mistakes and turning the ball over. In the two previous matchups, the Mountaineers failed to fold the Wildcats, who committed just 11 and 10 turnovers in those games — marks firmly below the 15.4 West Virginia has forced on average this year. And while the teams did split the two games, Kansas State managed to cover in both instances. 

Prediction: Kansas State -1 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

West Virginia's misleading and market-driving advanced defensive metrics also play a large role with totals. In the 11 games to start the season, they played just 3-8 to the Over. In the games since, they've played 15-5. Kansas State has nearly mirrored those records, starting the season 3-8 to the Over and playing 14-5 to it since. That includes its current streak of going Over the total in seven consecutive games.

Wednesday's total of 139 is certainly on the higher end for both teams, with West Virginia seeing a total at or above that mark six times this year (playing 4-2 to the Over) and Kansas State seeing it just three times (2-1 to the Under). The loftier total for Wednesday's game makes sense, given they went Over the total in both of their previous matchups (131 and 134.5) by combining to score 139 and 151, respectively.

The first game went Over largely due to West Virginia allowing Kansas State to throw up 34 threes while also allowing them to shoot 39% from that area. This is a common theme for both teams and it should play into Wednesday's matchup as well. In the second game, the teams combined for a monumental 63 free throw attempts.

West Virginia's defensive scheme requires its players to close distance and invade space, an approach that can lend its hand to fouls. As a result, the Mountaineers send opposing players to the charity stripe at the second-highest rate in the conference, and Kansas State trails just behind them with the fourth-highest.

Prediction: Over 139 (-110)

Best bet

It's not often you find market conditions like West Virginia's anywhere in sports.  It takes a perfect storm of unchanging extreme philosophy mixed with college basketball's inherent schedule structure. They embrace and execute a trap scheme that plays favorably early against unfamiliar opponents and then has severely diminishing returns against familiar conference opponents. Due to that sequencing, the early performances create a base market value that becomes difficult to dislodge and easy to take advantage of.

And given the level of play that has resulted, Wednesday could mark the last time this season that bettors can take advantage of that perfect storm if the Mountaineers are eliminated from the Big 12 tournament. There are no guarantees in life, but there are most certainly favorable opportunities that can present themself. Wednesday's Big 12 tournament opener between West Virginia and Kansas State is exactly that.

Pick: Kansas State -1 (-110)

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Did you know that if you parlayed our Kansas State vs. West Virginia picks, you could win $26.45 on a $10 bet?

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