The West Virginia Mountaineers (7-1) host the No. 15 UConn Huskies (8-1) for the Big East-Big 12 Battle Wednesday night at 7:00 and will be televised on ESPN2.
Schuyler Callihan: UConn 81, West Virginia 73
The Huskies are by far the best team the Mountaineers will have faced to this point in the season. They have a ton of length, athleticism and have skilled bigs. In addition, UConn does a terrific job on the glass, which could pose a considerable problem for WVU who has not rebounded well through the first eight games of the year. To put things into perspective, UConn guard Andre Jackson averages over seven rebounds per game which is more than anyone on WVU's roster. If the Mountaineers don't secure over 90% of defensive rebounds, the Huskies will run away with this thing.
Sean McNeil's status for this game is still unknown, but I don't think his availability will make much of a difference in the outcome. Isaiah Cottrell, Pauly Paulicap, Gabe Osabuohien, and Dimon Carrigan have to bring their A-game and not allow the UConn bigs to dominate the paint.
If the Mountaineers can force over 15 turnovers, they'll have a chance to pull off the upset. The only problem is, I don't see R.J. Cole panicking when WVU brings the pressure and gets sloppy with the ball. I've got the Huskies handing the Mountaineers their second loss of the season.
Christopher Hall: UConn 79 West Virginia 68
West Virginia has not shown they can compete at a high level thus far and have yet to play a team of this caliber even with UConn down two starters, and West Virginia has an advantage being that this is the first true road game (with fans in the venue) for the Huskies since March 2020.
However, UConn's leading scorer and point guard RJ Cole has been phenomenal in the early going. I expect the senior to remain poised early and weather any early Mountaineer momentum.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stated that senior guard, and the team's second-leading scorer, Sean McNeil is day-to-day with a lower back injury. He missed the game versus Radford on Saturday, but I suspect he'll be back in the lineup against UConn.
The Mountaineers will have their hands full in the frontcourt, an area WVU has lacked, but Pauly Paulicap has not only proved energy coming off the bench but is also starting to produce on both ends of the floor.
West Virginia leading scorer Taz Sherman (21.0 ppg) will keep the Mountaineers within striking distance. However, with a productive supporting cast, it will not be enough as UConn will pull away in the final moments of the second half and sneak out of Morgantown with a win, 79-68.
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