Location: WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.V.
Louisville 22 (No. 4 Big East)
West Virginia 34 (No. 7 Big East)
Line: West Virginia -4 (133.5 o/u)
Louisville Players to Watch: G Peyton Siva, 6-0 Jr. (8.4 ppg, 5.7 apg, 1.9 spg); F Kyle Kuric, 6-4 Sr. (13 ppg, 5 rpg, 35.4% 3s); G Russ Smith, 6-0 So. (12.1 ppg, 2.3 spg, 2.2 apg). Siva matched a career-high with nine assists, which he has done four times this season, in Monday’s win over Connecticut. He also had seven points, including his first 3-pointer since Jan. 3 at St. John’s.
West Virginia Players to Watch: F Kevin Jones, 6-8 Sr. (20.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 52.8% FG); G Darryl “Truck” Bryant, 6-2 Sr. (16.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3 rpg); G Jabarie Hinds, 5-11 Fr. (8.3 ppg, 3.4 apg, 1.4 spg). Jones, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds in 40 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to Notre Dame, is one of 20 players to be selected as a finalist for the 2012 Oscar Robertson Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player.
Storylines: Louisville has recovered from a 2-4 Big East start with five straight victories, including an 80-59 win over defending national champion Connecticut on Monday. West Virginia has lost three of its last four to fall to 6-6 in the league. The Mountaineers have lost their last two home games, 72-66 to Pitt on Jan. 30 and 55-51 to Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Key Stats: Louisville is averaging 9.5 steals per game, which is second to Syracuse in the Big East and sixth in the nation. West Virginia turns the ball over 13.2 times per game. The Moutaineers are one of the best rebounding teams in the Big East. They are second with a plus-6 rebounding margin and fourth in offensive rebounds with 14.5 per game. The Cardinals are sixth in the Big East in rebounding margin at plus-3.3. West Virginia is 11-3 at home this season, but has lost its last two. Louisville has won four of its seven games away from home this season, but the Cardinals have won their last two (73-62 at Pitt on Jan. 21 and 60-51 at Seton Hall on Jan. 28).
The Bottom Line: Louisville is playing its best basketball of the season and the Mountaineers are swooning a bit. The Cardinals ride their momentum to a third straight road win.
The Pick: Louisville 79, West Virginia 74