The West Virginia Mountaineers face a big test when they travel to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday evening.
TV Schedule: Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 8:00 PM ET, ESPN+
Location: United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, Texas
One of the most competitive games on the Big 12 slate this week is set for Wednesday night, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders are hosting the West Virginia Mountaineers in a vital game for both team’s tournament chances.
West Virginia has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the nation in 2019-20. They enter Wednesday as the No. 12 team in the country with just three losses to their name.
The Mountaineers don’t have a lot of nationwide cache, as they’re accomplishing everything this season without an offensive star. Their leading scorer is Oscar Tshiebwe, averaging just 11.8 points per game. He’s a menace defensively, however, leading the team in rebounds, blocks and steals.
And that’s how this Bob Huggins team gets it done, per tradition: on defense. West Virginia is one of the best defensive teams in the country, surrendering just 60.1 points per game. They’ve given up more than 60 points just once in their past eight games.
Texas Tech is solid on defense as well, giving up just 62.5 points per game. But they’ve been exposed much more often this season and are riding a two-game losing streak, the opposite of West Virginia’s two=game winning streak.
Much like their fellow championship game opponent, Virginia, the follow-up hasn’t gone according to plan for the Red Raiders. At just 12-7 (3-3 Big 12), Texas Tech is in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament this spring. They could use some signature wins to turn the tide around and Wednesday marks a huge opportunity.
That being said, the Red Raiders aren’t on the chopping block just yet. They were an AP-ranked team just a week ago, before falling to TCU and Kentucky in consecutive games. The loss to Kentucky could even be considered a “good loss,” as they took the Wildcats into overtime before succumbing to the better ranked team.
Some bad luck may have done Texas Tech in during their loss on Saturday. The Red Raiders shot just 15.8 percent from three-point range, hitting just 3-of-19 attempts. The team shoots 32.1 percent from three for the season, so that aberration isn’t likely to repeat itself.
Saturday also brought one of freshmen Jahmi’us Ramsey’s worst performances of his career, as he scored a season-low six points. Ramsey has only been held below ten points four times this season. One of the teams who have achieved the feat? West Virginia.
When these two teams met in Morgantown less than three weeks ago, West Virginia won 66-54 on the back of a strong rebounding performance and a great game from Miles McBride, who dropped 22 in the victory.
Texas Tech has a challenging week ahead, as they follow their game against the Mountaineers with a trip to face the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks. But the Red Raiders still have one of the best home court advantages in the sport and should utilize it to spring the upset of West Virginia on Wednesday.
Prediction: Texas Tech 68, West Virginia 65