The Backyard Brawl moves to the hardwood when Pitt travels an hour south to take on the No. 6 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers and then the nightcap with top-ranked Kansas hitting the road in the Big 12 to take on upset-hungry Colorado.
No. 21 Pitt (16-5) at No. 6 West Virginia (17-3), 7 p.m. ET
West Virginia –8.5
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How They Enter
The Mountaineers have struggled mightily at home lately but they have managed to overcome sluggish starts to get past Louisville on Saturday and Ohio State the Saturday before that. They have won four in a row but are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
The Pitt Panthers are starting to play like everyone thought they would entering the season. Things seem to be unraveling after losing three out of four, including a home game against Georgetown and road games against mid-level Big East teams Seton Hall and South Florida. Pitt remains the only team in the country to defeat Syracuse, they did it on the road by 10 points, no less, and they also own impressive wins at Cincinnati and Connecticut.
The Mountaineers have lived by their wing players all year. However, on Wednesday night Bob Huggins will finally get the post player he has been yearning for since Joe Alexander left Morgantown for the NBA. After serving a 20-game suspension, 6-foot-9, 260-pound freshmen Deniz Kilicli, an Istanbul, Turkey native, will finally be eligible to play. He is truly an x-factor as not many people know exactly what he brings to the table. His presence alone will allow Wellington Smith to get more looks from the outside, where he is more comfortable playing. Huggins has the two point guard system working finally with Daryl “Truck” Bryant providing flash on offense and Joe Mazzulla, a defensive stalwart.
For Pitt, Jermaine Dixon is hobbled by an ankle injury and is listed as questionable. Without him in the lineup Pitt struggled early on. He was the shot in the arm the Panthers needed when it went on its three-game road win streak. Gary McGhee is up for one of the toughest challenges yet in the post against a combination of Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones and Kilicli.
The game is a matchup of two solid defenses. West Virginia allows 62 points per game while Pitt has held opponents to 60 points per game.
Trends That Matter
West Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last five against the Big East
Pitt is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games
Pitt is on an 8-2-1 run ATS in its last 11 games
Pitt is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine against the Big East
Panthers are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 in the WVU Coliseum
Favorite is 11-5-1 ATS in the last 17 meetings in this rivalry
The Mountaineers have owned this rivalry on the football field recently and the hardwood. While 8.5 may seem like a lot of points for a rivalry game, the Mountaineers and Panthers are going in opposite directions. The Pitt season is unraveling while Bob Huggins and the boys gear up for March. West Virginia should cruise in this primetime showdown in the Coliseum.
No. 1 Kansas (20-1) at Colorado (11-10), 9 p.m. ET
How They Enter
The way things have gone this college basketball season the No. 1 ranking would be the last thing a team would want, but here is Kansas as the top-ranked team in the country again. And this time it earned the ranking, with a win a hostile environment at Kansas State. The Jayhawks have won six in a row since a 76-68 loss at Tennessee on Jan.10.
The Buffaloes’ season has been shaky at best. The last time we saw them they lost by a point at Iowa State on Saturday and overall they have lost four of five. At home, though, they are 9-1 overall this season and the home-court advantage should be bigger than ever Wednesday night.
The Buffs have one of the worst defenses in the conference. They allow 72 points per game and allow teams to shot 45 percent against them. What they do have is balanced scoring, evidenced by Cory Higgins (18.3), Alec Burks (16.3) and Marcus Relphorde.
Only two other teams score at the clip of the Jayhawks. Through 21 games this season Kansas averages 84.7 points per game and shoots 49.6 percent from the field. Guard Sherron Collins is a Player of the Year candidate and Cole Aldrich is a tour de force inside, averaging 10.3 rebounds per game and 11.6 points per game.
Trends That Matter
Colorado is 5-1 ATS when they are an underdog of more than 13 points
Kansas is 20-7-2 ATS in their last 29 games against conference opponents
Road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this series
Kansas has won five straight at Colorado
Kansas brings a hefty ranking to town but even the most fired up Colorado crowd cannot make up for the lack of interior presence the Buffs have. Look for Kansas to make easy work of Colorado in a rout that covers the spread. The pick is Kansas giving the points.