Here is everything you need to know about the Kansas Jayhawks and the West Virginia in our Kansas vs. West Virginia Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.
Game 3: No. 1 Kansas (25-6, 14-4) vs. No. 9 West Virginia (16-16), 2 p.m. CT, ESPN/2 (time is dependent on completion of Game 2)
Season series (Kansas 2-0): Kansas def. West Virginia, 85-59, in Lawrence, Kansas, on Jan. 15; Kansas def. West Virginia, 71-58, in Morgantown, WV, on Feb. 19.
Big 12 Tournament results: Kansas: First game. West Virginia: def. No. 8 Kansas State, 73-67.
Winner gets: a semifinal game against either the winner of Game 2 at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Projected starting lineups
Kansas: G Christian Braun, G Dajuan Harris Jr., F Jalen Wilson, G Ochai Agbaji, F David McCormack.
West Virginia: G Taz Sherman, G Sean McNeil, G Kedrian Johnson, F Jalen Bridges, F Gabe Osabuohein.
Player to watch
Kansas G Ochai Agbaji: He is on the final ballot for the National Player of the Year award and was the Big 12 Player of the Year selection by Heartland College Sports, the Big 12’s coaches and the Associated Press. He’s a presumed lottery pick for the NBA Draft, but for now he’s set on trying to get the Jayhawks to the Final Four. Entering the Big 12 Tournament he’s averaging 19.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and is playing 35 minute per game. He’s one of the country’s top 3-point shooters, too.
West Virginia G Malik Curry: The transfer has been one of the most reliable guards off the bench for the Mountaineers this season, and he put together a fine game for WVU on Wednesday against Kansas State. He finished with 17 points, two rebounds and two assists in the victory. Curry has proven to be a nice supplement when one of West Virginia’s star guards, Taz Sherman or Sean McNeil aren’t firing. When a player like McNeil IS firing, as he did against K-State with 21 points, Curry’s presence makes it much harder for teams to defend WVU.
Kansas: David McCormack is in the ‘probable starting lineup’ per the press notes, but according to head coach Bill Self the All-Big 12 Second Team pick is a game-time decision this week as the Jayhawks attempt to manage his injury issues. They didn’t seem to hamper him against Texas, where he put up a double-double in nearly 40 minutes. His hope is that McCormack can go Friday, so if he’s not on the floor for Kansas you’ll probably see Mitch Lightfoot in the starting lineup. Even without McCormack, the Jayhawks have more than enough firepower to win this tournament for the first time since 2018.
West Virginia: It’s been a rough season for the Mountaineers and, despite that, a couple of wins in Kansas City could score them a berth in the NIT. Well, one down for the Mountaineers after Wednesday’s win over K-State. WVU is now on a two-game winning streak after losing seven games in a row before that. Sherman is certainly capable of having a big game, but the Mountaineers need help from guard Sean McNeil (and WVU got it from him on Wednesday night), who has been inconsistent this season, and a quality game from forward Gabe Osabuohein wouldn’t hurt either.
Bill Self is the only active Big 12 coach with a Big 12 Tournament title.
Kansas 81, West Virginia 71. The Mountaineers will be playing on less than 24 hours’ rest and they haven’t played well against Kansas this season. This has potential to be an exciting game, regardless.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.