The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers will square off with the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Friday evening from the HTC Center. The Hilltoppers are coming off an 83-71 win over Valparaiso, and the Mountaineers cruised to a 71-53 win over Monmouth on Thursday night.
Western Kentucky Cruises to Second Straight Win
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have rebounded from their season-opening loss by winning two straight games which included an 83-71 win over Valparaiso in their first game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Thursday night. The Hilltoppers converted on 50% of their field goals in the winning effort. Taveion Hollingsworth was outstanding in the victory, accumulating 23 points on 9 for 16 shooting to go with nine rebounds.The sophomore guard has scored over 20 points in two straight games, and he is averaging a solid 19.7 points on 52% shooting. Jared Savage also played well on Thursday, collecting 25 points including five three-pointers. The junior guard has registered at least 15 points in all three games and he is up to an average of 18.8 points.
The Hilltoppers are pegged at 81st in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball rankings. Western Kentucky is averaging 74.7 points, ranking them 271st overall. They are allowing an average of 71.7 points in three games. Western Kentucky continues to play with starting guard Lamonte Bearden.
West Virginia Rebounds with First Win of Season
The West Virginia Mountaineers did as expected and came away with an easy 71-53 win over the 0-4 Monmouth Hawks on Thursday in a game that had WVU favored by 20 points. The Mountaineers shot 45% from the field while limiting Monmouth to a 35% clip. Esa Ahmad led the offensive charge with 16 points on a 5 for 8 shooting performance. The senior forward is expected to have a big season, and he is off to a strong start, scoring a combined 31 points on 10 for 21 shooting. James Bolden only notched nine points in Thursday’s win. The junior guard averaged 8.7 PPG last season, and he has scored a combined 30 points with seven assists in two games.
The Mountaineers are ranked at 16th in the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball rankings, and they will easily find themselves back in the national Top 25 rankings if they continue to win. WVU fell short in a 99-94 upset home loss to Buffalo in their only other game this season.
The West Virginia Mountaineers are:
- 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.
- over is 4-1 in their last 5 neutral site games.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are:
- 13-4 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games.
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a straight up win.
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am taking the points with Western Kentucky in this one. Western Kentucky has scored at least 83 points in two straight games, and they feature two red-hot players in Taveion Hollingsworth (19.7 PPG) and Jared Savage (18.7 PPG). Also four of the Hilltoppers top five scorers are all shooting over 50% through three games.
Furthermore, West Virginia hasn’t stood out offensively. They only scored 71 points against a poor defensive Monmouth team on Thursday, and they are only shooting 30.9% from three-point range.
Prediction: Western Kentucky
Full-Game Total Pick
I am opting with the over in this one. Western Kentucky is red-hot offensively, and they feature a stellar 40.4% clip from three-point territory, so I expect them to solve the Mountaineers defense. Furthermore, the Mountaineers did score 84 points before overtime in their season opener against Buffalo, and the over is 6-1 in WVU’s last seven non-conference games, and 5-1 in their last six games overall.