Big 12 Basketball

Kansas vs. West Virginia Preview, Prediction: Big 12 Tournament

Here is everything you need to know about Kansas and West Virginia in our Jayhawks vs. Mountaineers Big 12 Tournament men’s basketball preview.

Game 4: No. 1 Kansas (25-6, 13-5) vs. No. 8 West Virginia (19-13), 2 p.m. CT, ESPN2 (time is dependent on completion of Game 3)

Season series (Kansas 2-0): Kansas def. West Virginia, 76-62, in Morgantown, WV, on Jan. 7; Kansas def. West Virginia, 76-74, in Lawrence, Kan., on Feb. 25.


Big 12 Tournament results: Kansas: First game. West Virginia: def. No. 9 Texas Tech, 78-62.

Winner gets: a semifinal game against the winner of Game 3 at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Projected starting lineups

Kansas: G Gradey Dick, G Dajuan Harris Jr., G/F Kevin McCullar Jr., F Jalen Wilson, F KJ Adams.

West Virginia: G Kedrian Johnson, G Erik Stevenson, F Emmitt Matthews Jr., F Tre Mitchell, F Jimmy Bell Jr.

Player to watch


F Jalen Wilson: Well, Heartland College Sports had a different selection for Player of the Year, but the Big 12 coaches did give him the award unanimously. Wilson had a season that will likely get him in the first round of the NBA Draft this summer. He averaged 19.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 assist per game. If you’re going to slow down Kansas, you have to slow him down first. And then, of course, you have to find a way to slow down the rest of this starting lineup.  

West Virginia

G Kedrian Johnson: Ask WVU coach Bob Huggins and he’ll tell you he has plenty of leaders, and Johnson is among them. He scored 20 points in the Mountaineers’ win over Texas Tech on Wednesday evening and his game has grown in his final year in Morgantown. He entered the Big 12 Tournament averaging 11.0 points and 3.3 assists per game this season. Just as importantly, he’s the player the Mountaineers turn to for tough defense.


Key storylines


That three-game losing streak in January is nothing but a distant memory now. That streak of losses to Kansas State, TCU and Baylor called into question the Jayhawks’ ability to win the Big 12. Well, after a win over Kentucky in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, the Jayhawks won eight of its last 10 Big 12 games to claim the Big 12 regular-season title and the No. 1 seed. To some, the Jayhawks are the potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, thanks to its 15 Quad 1 wins, the most of any team in the country.

West Virginia

West Virginia lost its first five games, but its NCAA NET rating and KenPom ratings didn’t seem to suffer much. A conference season on the bubble appears to have the Mountaineers pointed toward the NCAA Tournament and their 19th win of the season on Wednesday likely sealed it. The turnaround started with a home win over TCU on Jan. 18 and the Mountaineers went 8-6 from there, including their Big-12 SEC Challenge win over then-ranked Auburn. WVU won three of its final four entering Kansas City. Erik Stevenson has been red hot, and both Emmitt Matthews Jr. and Tre Mitchell hit double figures on Wednesday.


Kansas 76, West Virginia 72. The last time these two teams met in Lawrence, WVU nearly beat KU. The key to staying close with Kansas is turnovers. If WVU can limit those, it has a good chance. Kansas finds a way to hold off WVU late.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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