The Kansas Jayhawks (25-6, 14-4) split the Big 12 regular-season championship with Baylor and will now set their eyes on definitively winning the conference through the Big 12 tournament. They will face the West Virginia Mountaineers (15-16, 4-14) in their opening matchup, who won their opening game yesterday against Kansas State.
West Virginia has the tough task of playing the well-rested top seed within 24 hours of playing for the continuation of their season, but that is what makes March so great. Will Kansas continue on its path to glory, or will West Virginia spoil the fun and keep its Big Dance dreams alive?
Continue reading for free college basketball picks and predictions for Kansas vs. West Virginia on Thursday, March 10th.
Kansas vs West Virginia odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
Kansas opened as 9- point favorites and have since moved to -10. The total opened at 146.5 and has since moved to 145.5.
Kansas vs West Virginia predictions
Predictions made on 3/10/2022 at 11:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Kansas vs West Virginia game info
• Location: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO
• Date: Thursday, March 10, 2022
• Tip-off: 3:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Kansas at West Virginia betting preview
Kansas: No injuries to report.
West Virginia: No injuries to report.
Find our latest NCAA basketball injury reports.
Betting trend to know
West Virginia has played 16-5 to the Over in its last 21 games. Find more NCAA betting trends for Kansas vs. West Virginia.
Kansas 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.
By the numbers, Kansas is a true national championship contender. It ranks seventh in the official NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) ratings, ninth in KenPom adjusted efficiency, and split the regular-season Big 12 championship - arguably the toughest conference in the country. When looking at its resume through the lens of NET, few teams compare.
Only Baylor has managed to play as many Quadrant 1 games as Kansas while managing a better record in those games, with the Bears possessing an 11-4 record to the Jayhawks' 10-5. In Quadrant 2 games, only Arizona (9-0), Wisconsin (8-1), and Providence (9-1) have played more games and managed a better record than Kansas, but none of those teams have Quadrant 1 records as pristine as Kansas'.
On offense, the Jayhawks can beat you in a multitude of ways. Leading scorers Ochai Agbaji (19.8 PPG) and Christian Braun (14.9 PPG) are both extremely proficient 3-point shooters, contributing to Kansas' conference-leading mark of 35.6%. However, the Jayhawks aren't overly reliant on that shot, averaging just 19.8 attempts per game which ranks sixth out of the ten Big 12 teams.
The two are also major contributors at the rim, where Kansas ranks 32nd in the nation in field goal percentage. That inside-out efficiency can lead to a lot of overcompensating from opposing defenses, but Kansas is also proficient on 2-point jumpers if needed (its 38.8% ranks 103rd).
That offense has already done work against this West Virginia defense, putting up 85 and 71 in two matchups this season. The Mountaineers struggled to find their defensive footing in a conference that has become largely accustomed to Bob Huggins' trap defense. West Virginia managed just a 4-14 conference record, and across those 14 losses it put up just one good defensive performance, when it managed to hold Texas Tech to 60. Across the 13 other losses, it allowed an average of 78.1 points.
Kansas is a particularly tough matchup for West Virginia, for a multitude of reasons.
For one, West Virginia does not defend the perimeter well, having allowed a 35.0% clip in conference play, good for second-worst in the Big 12.
Secondly, its trap defense leaves it vulnerable to teams that can pass well, particularly teams that can cut and pass towards the hoop. Kansas, having ranked first in the Big 12 in assists per game, is that type of team. As a result, Kansas managed to shoot 25-35 (71.4%) near the rim in the first matchup, and in the second matchup it shot 11-14 (78.6%), and West Virginia managed to "limit" the volume simply because it sent the Jayhawks to the line 22 times that game.
Prediction: Kansas -10 (-110)
Kansas has seen eight totals at or above Thursday's mark of 145.5 and has played 5-3 to the Over in those instances. West Virginia has had three of such totals and has played 2-1 to the Under. In the previous two matchups, these two played to totals of 144 and 129.
As is the nature of conference tournaments, West Virginia is playing back-to-back games. On one or fewer days of rest this year, West Virginia has played 5-1 to the Over. It has allowed an average of 76.8 points in those games and has allowed 77 or more in all but one (59 to Clemson on 11/21). This fundamentally makes sense given that the trap defense can be energy-intensive and playing on short rest can exacerbate that.
West Virginia's defense has also fared much worse against Big 12 teams (who are familiar with the defense) than it has against non-conference teams. This largely explains why West Virginia played 8-3 to the Under to start the season and 16-5 to the Over since.
Prediction: Over 145.5 (-110)
It doesn't take a genius to see that Kansas has better talent and coaching in comparison to West Virginia but the size of that gap is seriously widened by the actual makeup of this team. Kansas possesses every tool that makes it impossible for the Mountaineers to keep their games competitive. And the proof is in the pudding, with the Jayhawks winning the first two by 26 at home and 13 on the road.
There isn't much to suggest the third iteration of the matchup will go any differently. While it is admirable that Bob Huggins was able to craft a win against Kansas State on Wednesday, the challenge ahead of him on Thursday afternoon is an entirely different beast. Bill Self has maintained excellence for almost two decades now, and this opening round against West Virginia isn't the time for that to not show through.
Pick: Kansas -10 (-110)
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