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West Virginia vs Kentucky Picks – Young Wildcats learn patience, send WVU packing

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/26/2010 2:12:53 PM
NCAA Betting odds – Pick Kentucky -4

Online betting cappers will have their hands full making their West Virginia vs Kentucky picks, which is the only time that two top seeds will clash in the regional finals. Both won their Sweet 16 games with similar styles, and it’ll be much of the same in this contest, as the Mountaineers will use a zone to nullify’s Kentucky’s rampant athleticism. But the Wildcats will find a way to get inside, thanks to their head coach who has a personal stake in this rivalry.

West Virginia vs Kentucky Betting Odds: Kentucky -4
  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Saturday, March 27, 7:00 PM ET
  • Where: Carrier Dome – Syracuse, NY
  • Key Stat: Kentucky is 13-4 all-time against West Virginia

The West Virginia vs Kentucky Storyline

The East is the only region to have the top seeds facing off, and there’s some history here: remember the Hatfields and McCoys? These two legendary families battled along the West Virginia-Kentucky border line. The Hatfields in this case would be the Mountaineers, who pulled away in the second half for a 69-56 win over Washington in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, while the McCoys…er, the Wildcats, used their athleticism and defense to power a 62-45 win over Cornell.

But the most exciting part of this matchup may come on the bench, where WVU’s Bob Huggins and Kentucky’s John Calipari will clash in a meeting of volatile personalities, and they also used to be very good friends when the two coached in the Atlantic 10 (Huggins at Cincinnati, Calipari at UMass). Huggins has a 7-1 edge in his meetings with Calipari, who now has as much talent as he’s ever had.

Offensive Matchups

The Mountaineers shot only 40% from the floor against the Huskies, and Da’Sean Butler had a rough night, going 5-of-16 for 14 points. WVU also had 23 turnovers on the night, which could be due to missing “Truck” Bryant, who has a broken foot. But the Mountaineers made their shots when they had to, and they were all over the offensive glass, outrebounding Washington 19-9. Butler is the guy that Kentucky needs to watch, as he’s made six game-winning shots for the Mountaineers this season, and he can handle the ball as well as shoot.

The Wildcats showed their inexperience against Cornell on this end of the floor, settling for jump shots when the Big Red went to a zone. Kentucky shot 2-of-16 from beyond the arc, and they’ve been making 34.7% of their treys this year, so they’re not that great of a long-distance team. However, when they were patient, they got the ball inside to DeMarcus Cousins for 16 points, and then there’s the one-man fast break in John Wall, who had just eight points, but he added eight assists, and a lot of those came off his seven rebounds. The question remains: when will their poor foul shooting come back to bit them?

Betting Edge: Even

Defensive Matchups

WVU put the clamps on Washington, holding the Huskies to 39.3% from the field, including 3-of-11 from beyond the arc, and they held a 41-25 edge on the boards. The Mountaineers switch between man and zone defense, and they may stick with the 1-3-1 zone to try and keep the Wildcats out of the paint. Devin Ebanks is a wonderful defender in both schemes with his length, while Joe Mazzulla harasses the other team’s point guard.

The Wildcats are explosive offensively, but the reason they should be considered the sportsbook favorites in this Tournament is their 40-minutes-of-pressure defense that smothered Cornell, the nation’s best three-point shooting team, into a 5-of-21 night. Kentucky has long arms all over the place, and in Wall and Eric Bledsoe, they have a pair of guards who love to create turnovers so they can get out and run. They’re also an excellent rebounding team as well.

Betting Edge: Kentucky

Injuries

WVU’s sportsbook chances didn’t take that big a hit when Bryant (foot) went down in practice, as Mazzulla was playing a lot anyway, but losing that depth hurts, especially against the Kentucky backcourt.

Betting Edge: Kentucky

Betting Prediction: West Virginia vs Kentucky Picks

The Wildcats are a 4-point favorite in this contest, and they’re going for their third straight win over the Mountaineers, as they went to Morgantown and beat them in 2005, and again in 2008. WVU has a few matchup problems in this game that they’ll try to alleviate with the zone. They’re not that big and they’ll have to keep Cousins and Patrick Patterson off the glass, which is easier said than done. Can their backcourt keep up with Wall and Bledsoe? If Mazzulla battles fouls like he did against Washington, the Mountaineers are in deep trouble. If Calipari can get the Wildcats to remain patient against the zone, they’ll advance to the Final Four in Indianapolis, and he’ll pick up a big sports betting win for the state against his former friend.

Washington’s Pick: Kentucky -4

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