The race for the Big 12 regular season title is still wide open, but Saturday’s matchup between No. 20 West Virginia (19-7, 8-5 Conf) and No. 13 Kansas (20-6, 9-4 Conf) could go a long way in helping clear things up.
The game starts at 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or a cable log-in, you can watch the game for free live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for a free trial of one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
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Chasing their 14th consecutive Big 12 regular season conference title, Kansas trails a red-hot Texas Tech squad by one game. Considering the Jayhawks still get to play Texas Tech, plus the fact that the Red Raiders play four of their last five games against teams that are ranked inside the Top 33 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings, this actually isn’t a must-win game for Kansas. In what has been a wild Big 12 season, making up a two-game deficit in four games isn’t easy, but it’s plausible.
“You can see that the ceiling is still pretty high if we can get everybody on the same page and playing well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
“I mean, my thoughts have always been the same. We got a chance to be in every game. We got a chance to win every game. Why should we settle for anything less than that? The reality is, I think there’s potential to play a lot better than we have in the last two or three weeks.”
As is always the case when playing against West Virginia, whose relentless pressure forces opponents into a turnover on 24.8 percent of possessions (second-most in the country), the Jayhawks will need to take care of the ball. They did that during a 71-66 win in Morgantown back on January 15, as they committed just 13 turnovers on 69 possessions (18.8 TO percentage).
On Saturday, though, they’ll run into a surging West Virginia squad. The Mountaineers were brutal during the second-half of January, losing five of six games, but they’ve responded with three wins in their past four. That includes going into Norman and beating Oklahoma on the road, as well as a 16-point drubbing of TCU on Monday. In those wins, the defense has been the key, as they held the Sooners and Horned Frogs to a total of 33.6 points below their season scoring averages.
“We don’t shoot it great and we pass it below average so we’ve got to play hard and make things happen with our defense,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We’ve got to make it really hard on people and we’ve got to make people want the game to be over with because they’re tired of us chasing them around. We are what we are.”
Since joining the Big 12 in the 2012-13 season, West Virginia is 0-5 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks haven’t been nearly as dominant at home this season, but it will still take a massive effort for the Mountaineers to climb closer in the conference title race.