Big 12 Conference Championship Game Betting Preview


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West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas Jayhawks (-5, OFF)

Win or lose in Saturday’s Big 12 Tournament championship game, top-ranked Kansas already has locked up the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seed in the eyes of many national analysts. But that doesn’t mean senior Perry Ellis or his Jayhawks’ teammates necessarily plan on taking it easy against West Virginia in the title tilt at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

“I think (winning the tournament) is real important just from a team standpoint and getting a lot of momentum going forward,” Ellis said in a post-game news conference Friday after top-seeded Kansas held off Baylor 70-66 in the semifinals to notch its 13th straight win overall. “All of our guys are trying to win this.” Ellis scored a game-high 20 points as the Jayhawks overcame a 21-point first half – their lowest-scoring of the season – to shoot 46.2 percent from the field, outrebound the Bears 44-32 and advance to their 12th title game in 20 Big 12 tourneys. No. 8 and second-seeded West Virginia, meanwhile, will be playing in its first Big 12 championship after surviving a replay-nullified half-court heave at the buzzer by Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield to win the second semifinal 69-67. 

TV: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN

BETTING STATS:

West Virginia – 26-7 SU, 20-10 ATS, 13-16-1 O/U
Kansas – 29-4 SU, 20-11 ATS, 11-19-1 O/U

COVERS POWER RANKINGS: West Virginia Mountaineers (-14.95) – Kansas Jayhawks (-17.6) = Kansas -2.65

ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (26-7): The Mountaineers came to Kansas City without a win in their first three Big 12 tourney appearances, but have routed TCU 86-66 and withstood a late Oklahoma comeback to reach their first conference championship game since the 2010 Big East final. It was West Virginia’s sixth straight win overall, and not surprising, the team’s pressing defense played a key role, forcing the Sooners into 21 turnovers and holding Hield, the Big 12 Player of the Year, to a season-low six points on 1-of-8 shooting. On the other side of the stat sheet, guard Jevon Carter scored a season-high 26 points and joins leading scorers Jaysean Paige (14.1) and Devin Williams (12.8) as three of six Mountaineers averaging at least 9.2 points per outing. 

ABOUT KANSAS (29-4): The Jayhawks didn’t exactly win going away Friday as Baylor cut a 16-point deficit with 1:51 remaining to three points in the final 10 seconds against the Kansas reserves, giving coach Bill Self something to focus on entering the title tilt. Ellis hit 7-of-15 field goals and all six of his free throws to notch his fourth straight 20-point game and up his team-leading scoring average to 16.7. Guards Frank Mason III (13.4 points), Wayne Selden Jr. (13.1) and Devonte’ Graham (11.2) also are averaging double digits for the Jayhawks, who rank in the top 10 nationally in field-goal (49.4) and 3-point (42.2) percentage.

DANCE TEAM WAR:

TRENDS:

* Mountaineers are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. Big 12.

* Jayhawks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.

* Under is 5-1 in Mountaineers last 6 neutral site games.

* Under is 6-1-1 in Jayhawks last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.


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