What Time Is The West Virginia Football Game Tonight Steve Merril’s College Fullcourt Report (Mar.23)

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Steve Merril’s College Fullcourt Report (Mar.23)

There were 326 teams competing for the Division I NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship when the season began four months ago, and now the field has been whittled down to just sixteen teams. Check out all four matches for Thursday night below.

LSU vs. DUKE (-6, 147 ½) – 7:10 PM ET (Atlanta, GA)

An interesting matchup as LSU holds the frontcourt advantage while Duke holds the backcourt advantage. The line dropped a bit in this game and my overall power rating favors Duke by five points on a neutral court.

LSU led the SEC with a +7.4 margin of victory in conference games, while Duke led the ACC with a +9.6 conference margin of victory. The power of the two conferences is almost a dead end based on my power ratings, so the regular season interconference stats are significant when handicapping.

LSU has one of the most potent frontcourts in the country that includes four of their top five scorers. Star freshman Tyrus Thomas is still playing at full strength and has averaged just 19 ½ minutes in the team’s two tournament games. Thomas leads the team in blocks (3.1 bpg) and is second in rebounding (9.3 rpg) and fourth in scoring (12.7 ppg).

Duke relies more on their outside point as they attempt 35 percent of their three-point shots, compared to an LSU team that only attempts 22 percent from long range. Duke is averaging 39.4 percent from beyond the arc this year (compared to opponents who have allowed just 34.6 percent), and the Blue Devils should have success against LSU’s below-average perimeter defense, which has allowed 37.9 percent on the road this year. season.

BRADLEY vs. MEMPHIS (-6, 142) – 7:25 p.m. ET (Oakland, Calif.)

Memphis dominated the weak Conference USA this season, winning by an average margin of +16.1 points per game, while Bradley was the most dominant team in their conference and won their Missouri Valley games by an average margin of +7.4 points per game.

The teams are a bit closer in talent than the scoring margin would seem to indicate, as my power rating shows the Missouri Valley Conference to be an average of eight points stronger than Conference USA this season. Overall, my five sets of power ratings combine to favor Memphis by 5 ½ points on a neutral court tonight.

Both teams are at a technical disadvantage as Bradley is coming off back-to-back wins at SU as an underdog, while Memphis is at a disadvantage playing against highly seeded tournament teams that have covered the score in back-to-back games.

Both teams have solid offenses as Memphis is averaging 81.0 points per game (compared to opponents allowing just 66.8 points), while Bradley is averaging 71.7 points per game this season (compared to opponents allowing only 64.3 points per game).

While each offense is strong, the defense is equally stout as Memphis is allowing just 38.2 percent from the field (vs. a team average of 44.2 percent) and Bradley is allowing just 40.1 percent from the field (vs. opponents averaging 43 .5 percent from the floor).

WEST VIRGINIA vs. TEXAS (-5, 131 ½) – 9:40 p.m. ET (Atlanta, GA)

This is a rematch from earlier this season on Nov. 21 in Kansas City when Texas overcame a ten-point second half deficit to win 76-75 as a 6-point favorite in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic. Texas scored the game-winning field goal with just 3.6 seconds left, then blocked West Virginia’s final shot to preserve the victory.

The game easily went over the final 141 total as both offenses were extremely hot from the field. Texas outrebounded West Virginia 54-48 percent and held a 44-39 percent advantage from beyond the arc. The reason the game was close was because West Virginia had a 12-5 advantage in free throw attempts and a huge 24-11 advantage.

My overall power rating favors Texas by 7 ½ points tonight, but West Virginia is a very dangerous team in the postseason as the Mountaineers attempt over half of their shots from three-point range, and when they’re hot, the Mountaineers can beat anyone. That was the case last year when West Virginia made a surprise trip to the Elite Eight and overall the Mountaineers went a perfect 6-0 ATS in the NCAA Tournament under head coach John Beilein the last two years.

GONZAGA vs. UCLA (-3, 138) – 9:55 PM ET (Oakland, CA)

That line quickly went from -3 to -4 ½ earlier this week when it was announced that Gonzaga All-American forward Adam Morrison (28.2 ppg) was battling the flu. The concern was that it might take him longer than normal to recover due to the fact that he is diabetic. The scoring range has since dropped after Morrison practiced on Wednesday and appears ready to play tonight.

UCLA is also dealing with a key injury as starting quarterback Jordan Farmar is recovering from a wrist injury he suffered during Saturday night’s game against Alabama. Farmer is expected to play tonight and he leads the Bruins in assists (5.2 ppg) and is second in scoring (13.6 ppg).

Gonzaga relies heavily on its inside scoring as the Bulldogs take 73 percent of their shots from inside the arc and just 27 percent of their offensive attempts come from three-point range. Meanwhile, UCLA relies more on the outside shot as the Bruins attempt nearly 35 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

The key to this game will be which team can push the tempo and dictate their style of play as Gonzaga is more comfortable in an up tempo while UCLA prefers a slow defensive battle in the half court.

STEVE MERRIL is a professional sports handicapper and a certified member of The Professional Handicappers League. Download his Premium Games here.

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