Numbers are posted for Wednesday’s Big 12/Big East clash at West Virginia between the Mountaineers and Connecticut Huskies, and it’s time to dig into the matchup to come up with a winning NCAA basketball pick.
Connecticut Huskies vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
Wednesday, December 08, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at WVU Coliseum
Conference realignment in recent years has made for some strange bedfellows, as well as confusion regarding just where schools call home these days. This interconference matchup between the Connecticut Huskies and West Virginia Mountaineers certainly fits the confusing part, especially for some of us old-timers who still think of it as a clash of Big East contenders.
In the case of the Huskies and Mountaineers, this will be their third different interconference matchup to go with clashes as Big East rivals. West Virginia and Connecticut are playing for the first time as Big 12 and Big East opponents, and last met on the NCAAB scoreboard as Big 12 and AAC adversaries. They also battled as members of the Southern and Yankee conferences.
UConn, WVU Meeting for the First Time in Seven Years
With Connecticut moving up two spots to No. 15 in the AP poll, this is one of six contests involving a top 25 team. The Huskies are the only one of that half-dozen to be the underdog, however, as West Virginia is favored by a bucket at most online betting sites.
This hump day collision marks the 23rd time the Huskies and Mountaineers have met, and it’s Connecticut with the solid 16-6 advantage in the rivalry. Most of those matchups – 19 to be exact – came when the two schools were together in the Big East, and the Huskies held a very strong 15-4 advantage in those contests. Their first match came in the 1963 NCAA Tournament, West Virginia winning the first-round tilt.
Their last encounter came at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November 2014 when the Mountaineers took home the trophy with a 78-68 decision in the championship game. That was a mild upset for West Virginia as a 4-point underdog and unranked against the then-No. 17 Huskies. The Mountaineers have never beaten Connecticut two times in a row.
Martin and Sanogo Remain Sidelined for Huskies
Let’s face it; Dan Hurley will never be completely pleased with his team, or at least never admit to being satisfied with their effort. Still, he was at least content with the Huskies’ most recent job in an 88-59 triumph over Grambling State last Saturday in Storrs. Hurley even noted his pleasure in the post-game presser when he said, “I thought we played a lot more to our identity.”
It wasn’t all that pretty on the offensive end, but the Huskies still managed to turn strong defense into points and their backers were pleased with the cover as 26-point chalk at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review) Senior R.J. Cole, who leads the team with a 16.3 scoring average, didn’t have his sharpest afternoons in hitting just 4-of-14 from the field and missing all six 3-point tries, though he still filled his sheet with 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and four steals.
Hurley was also happy to see the dominant win without two of his top three players on the floor against Grambling. Senior guard Tyrese Martin is out of action due to a wrist injury, while sophomore forward Adama Sanogo is out with an abdominal strain. Neither is expected to play on Wednesday.
Mountaineers 29th in the Country with 9.6 Steals per Game
Bob Huggins can also be a tough coach to impress. Take last Saturday’s 67-51 victory over Radford, for example. Huggins emptied his bench, which usually means the starters performed admirably, and they did. But the West Virginia coach was still disappointed in not being able to build on a huge lead early in the second half. Bettors who laid 19 on the college basketball odds were also disappointed in the final 16-point margin of victory.
Taz Sherman had another big game, coming within a point of matching his career and season-high of 28 he had against Eastern Kentucky a little more than a week earlier. The signature West Virginia defense was also there with 13 steals and forcing the Highlanders into 20 turnovers. And the Mountaineers did it all without Sean McNeil, the team’s No. 2 scorer (12.0 PPG), who sat with a sore back and is questionable to play against Connecticut.
The scoreboard target is at 138-139 points, and it is easy to imagine neither side breaking 70. In fact, it is so easy to imagine some 68-66 affair one way or the other, I’m playing it ‘under’ in Morgantown on Wednesday evening.
NCAAB Pick: Under 139 (-105) at BetOnline
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.