Monday Big 12 Betting Preview

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Monday Big 12 Betting Preview


IOWA STATE CYCLONES (19-8, 8-6 Big 12) at WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (20-7, 9-5 Big 12) Line: West Virginia -6, Total: 157


Slumping West Virginia tries to get back in the win column Monday night when it hosts an up-and-down Iowa State team.


The Cyclones (12-11 ATS overall) have shot at least 52% FG in four straight games, but are only 2-2 SU (1-3 ATS) in these contests. Both defeats came on the road (at Texas Tech and at Baylor), but they did bounce back after losing in Waco with a 92-83 win over TCU on Saturday.


The Mountaineers (14-10 ATS overall) are 1-3 (SU and ATS) in their past four contests including back-to-back losses at Texas and versus Oklahoma last week. The setback versus the Sooners was just their second home loss all season (11-2 SU, 7-3 ATS).


These schools are meeting for only the eighth time as conference rivals, with Iowa State holding a 5-2 SU advantage (4-3 ATS), including 2-1 (SU and ATS) on the road. But one of those series defeats came earlier this month on Feb. 2 when 5-point underdog West Virginia left Ames with an 81-76 upset victory.


There are plenty of betting trends that favor each side on Monday, as the Cyclones are 84-53 ATS versus very good teams (8+ PPG margin) since 1997, and are 46-25 ATS when revenging a same-season loss in this same span. However, West Virginia's pressure defense thrives against up-tempo offenses, going 13-2 ATS versus teams averaging 62+ FGA per game after 15+ games under head coach Bob Huggins. The team is also 16-6 ATS at home versus excellent ball-handling teams (12 or less TOPG) after 15+ games since 1997.


Iowa State knows how to put up points with 83.0 PPG (14th in D-I) on an outstanding 50.4% FG (2nd in nation) and strong 38% threes (42nd in D-I). This is an average foul-shooting team at 69.8% FT (172nd in nation) that rarely gets to the line with a mere 430 free-throw attempts (336th in nation). However, the Cyclones hold an impressive 1.49 Ast/TO ratio (17th in D-I) because they usually makes the extra pass (16.7 APG, 24th in nation) and rarely turn the ball over (11.2 TOPG, 42nd in D-I).


Yet, Iowa State does not have a very tough defense, allowing 75.1 PPG (257th in nation) on 43.6% FG (188th in D-I) and 34.9% threes (210th in nation), but it plays clean with the second-fewest amount of personal fouls in D-I (15.3 per game). Although the team is efficient on the defensive glass (27.1 Def. RPG, 67th in nation), it grabs only 9.2 offensive RPG (291st in D-I).


The two stars of this team are senior F Georges Niang (17.2 PPG, 2nd in Big 12) and junior PG Monte Morris (14.8 PPG, 1.9 SPG), who ranks among the nation's top-five players in minutes (37:55 per game), assists (7.3 APG) and Ast/TO ratio (4.8). Niang shoots high percentages from all areas the court at 54% FG, 39% threes and 82% FT, but is much more than just a scorer with 6.3 RPG and 3.1 APG. Niang has poured in 24+ points in three straight contests and dropped 20 points -- along with eight turnovers -- in the Feb. 2 loss to West Virginia.


Morris has 11 assists in each of his past two games and posted a remarkable 10 assists and zero turnovers against the Mountaineers, who are the second-best team in the nation in forcing turnovers.


Senior F Abdel Nader (13.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG) had an offensive explosion last week with 26 points at Baylor followed by 24 versus TCU. He made 17-of-27 FG and 10-of-17 threes, which increased his season percentages to 49% FG and 36% threes.


Senior F/C Jameel McKay (11.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG) has played only 42 minutes over the past five contests, and he hopes to be able to contribute more than he did in the loss to WVU on Groundhog's Day when he had seven points, four rebounds and four turnovers in 30 minutes.


Junior G Matt Thomas (10.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG) is the school's best long-range shooter, as he is making 43% of his threes, while junior G Deonte Burton (10.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG) also knocks down 43% threes and gets his double-digit scoring average in only 19.8 MPG.


West Virginia has been able to put up major points this season with 79.3 PPG (40th in D-I), but it shoots only 45.0% FG (122nd in nation) and 31.5% threes (300th in D-I), and it doesn't cash in from the foul line either (66.1% FT, 289th in nation). However, the Mountaineers are always attacking the glass with a +8.6 RPG margin (10th in nation) and 16.2 offensive RPG (2nd in D-I), and generate a big chunk of their offense from a heavy pressing defense nicknamed "Press Virginia," that ranks second in the nation in both steals (10.0 SPG) and forced turnovers (18.3 TOPG). This pressure helps the team allow only 66.0 PPG (44th in D-I) on 42.0% FG (106th in nation), and limit opponents to a mere 31.0% threes (31st in D-I).


The offense is very balanced with six players averaging at least nine points per game, but nobody scoring even 14 per contest. F Devin Williams (13.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG) is the go-to scorer shooting 48% FG, and has tallied at least 10 points in seven straight games. This includes a monster 17-point, 18-rebound effort in the Feb. 2 win at Iowa State, which was one of his conference-high 12 double-doubles this season.


Senior G Jaysean Paige (13.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG) leads the team in scoring and shoots strong rates of 46% FG and 35% threes this season. But Paige has been ice-cold over his past four games where he has made only 12-of-44 shots (27%) and 3-of-14 threes. But he had no trouble making baskets against the Cyclones three weeks ago when he dropped 23 points on 10-of-17 FG with six rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.


Lightning-quick guards Daxter Miles Jr. (10.1 PPG, 1.5 SPG) and Jevon Carter (9.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG) are both outstanding at taking the ball away, but both Carter (29% threes) and Miles (28% threes) struggle with long-range shooting. Miles had a great effort in Ames with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals in 19 minutes, but Carter was held scoreless in 23 minutes and committed four turnovers which took away from his six assists and two steals.


F Jonathan Holton (9.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG) provides more muscle down low, with at least eight boards on 13 separate occasions this year. He scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Saturday's loss to Oklahoma, but did not play in the win over Iowa State earlier this month.


WVU's final big scorer is junior G Tarik Phillip (9.0 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.6 SPG), who has been outstanding over the past two games with a hefty 18.0 PPG on 11-of-21 FG and 6-of-11 threes.


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