West Virginia Mountaineers (24-9), +3, o/u 120.5, vs. Georgetown Hoyas (26-4), -3, 120.5, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 7 p.m. Eastern, Friday
by Oracle at Predictem.com
The West Virginia Mountaineers look to keep a nice run going in the Big East Tournament when they run into a streaking Georgetown Hoyas in a semifinals showdown at Madison Square Garden.
The Mountaineers are a hard team to figure out. After barely beating a porous Providence team in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday, they took out nationally ranked Connecticut in a 78-72 win on Thursday.
With that in mind, it will be very interesting for college basketball fans, as well as bettors, around the country to see what Mountaineer team will show up against a Georgetown team that bombarded Villanova, 82-63, in a quarterfinal match up on Thursday and has won six straight games, finding their groove at exactly the right time of year.
Either way, with a nice postseason run, West Virginia has solidified a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Big East has showed why it’s considered one of the deepest conferences in the nation. Only one of the top four seeds made it into the semifinals, as West Virginia is the highest seed at No. 7.
The bookies don’t seem to care the WVU is facing No. 1 seed Georgetown, as they opened up just 3-point dogs. The over/under opened up at 120.5 total points.
In the first match up of the year, the Hoyas needed a last-second shot and a big defensive stop at the buzzer in order to beat the Mountaineers, 58-57, in Morgantown. WVU was actually 3.5-point favorites heading into that contest, but was unable to cover. The 115-point total was well under the 128 mark sportsbooks put the over/under at.
This was the time of the season where West Virginia’s Joe Alexander wasn’t a household name around the Big East. Alexander has been a beast lately, scoring a career-high 34 points in the upset win over UConn and a combined 56 points in the first two games of the tournament a Big East record. Alexander has upped his scoring average to a team-high 16.9 points.
With the recent play of Alexander, the Mountaineers won’t have to rely on their guard play to match up with the veteran backcourt of Georgetown. Point guard Darris Nichols did play well against Georgetown’s senior guard Jonathan Wallace, however, scoring a team-high 16 points and grabbing six rebounds.
The Mountaineers had a hard time matching up with 7-footer Roy Hibbert in the first meeting. Nevertheless, Georgetown decided they didn’t want to pass the ball to Hibbert much, as he got off just six shots, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
WVU tried to contain Hibbert with their own 7-footer Jamie Smalligan, who played an unusual 19 minutes in the first meeting Smalligan averages just 11 minutes per game on the year along with just 2.4 points. He’ll be sure to man up on Hibbert and use his fouls wisely. He scored six points and committed four fouls in the loss.
Neither team has been stellar against the spread this year. The Mountaineers have faired better than GU with a 14-12-1 mark. Meanwhile, the Hoyas are just 12-15 ATS.
The Mountaineers haven’t minded playing on a neutral court as of late, going 4-0 ATS when heading into the game an underdog. They’re 13-5 in their last 18 overall neutral site games.
Georgetown has been a tough sell for bettors mainly because they have a hard time covering back-to-back games. They are just 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games following a win against the spread.
The under has been solid for bettors when these two squads go head-to-head, as it’s 4-0 in the last four meetings. The under is also a huge 21-5 in the last 26 games when Georgetown is the favorite between .5 and 6.5 points.
With West Virginia’s explosive offense as of late, the over has been a trend for them. The over is 5-1 in the last six overall games for WVU and 4-1 following a straight up win.
By this time of the tournament, Georgetown is a bit fresher than WVU because they’ve played one less game. At the same time, though, the Mountaineers couldn’t have much more momentum on their side. It should be another Big East classic.
Oracle’s Pick: The betting public is all over Georgetown on this one. The Mountaineers fair well on even ground, though. Take West Virginia plus the points!