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Five Things to Know Before WVU vs. Kansas State

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West Virginia competes against K-State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on January 23, 2021. (Scott Weaver)

As West Virginia looks to open up the WVU Coliseum for the first time in Big 12 Conference play this season, let’s take a look at five things to know before WVU vs. Kansas State.

Meet the Opponent

Kansas State isn’t usual Kansas State this season. Yeah, they aren’t Baylor, but the young team that Bruce Weber has had the last couple of seasons is improving each game. KSU comes in at 8-5 and has good wins over Wichita State and Nebraska. Their losses come to Illinois, Arkansas, Marquette, Oklahoma and Texas; no bad losses.

Behind guard Nijel Pack, who’s averaging 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, the Wildcats picked up upperclassmen in the transfer portal last offseason. Markquis Nowell (Little Rock), Mark Smith (Mizzou) and Ismael Massoud (Wake Forest) all are producing over eight points per game.

“I think [Bruce Weber] has done a great job with the roster management,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said on Friday. “He’s brought in guys that really fit his system, he’s brought in guys that really make them better.”

Who’s Playing (and Coaching) on Both Sides?

Okay, the weekly, almost daily, COVID-19 update on the teams. Here we go.

For West Virginia, the team is expecting to bring back Taz Sherman, Gabe Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson, who all missed the Texas game last week due to being placed into health and safety protocols.

For Kansas State, the team has been experiencing an outbreak on their team. Against Texas, on Tuesday, the team played with only six scholarship players and a walk-on. Head coach Bruce Weber also did not coach against the Longhorns. Weber told the media that he tested positive again on Friday morning, so he will not be making the trip up to Morgantown. KSU assistant coach Jermaine Henderson will take over the head coaching duties against the Mountaineers and will be assistant by a grad assistant. The Wildcats will play with the same six scholarship players and bring back Nowell from quarantine.

Another Potential Game to use the Bench

After Huggins announced Sherman, Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson to all return, he had some doubt on how long they’ll be able to play on Saturday. Huggins made a point that since they’ve returned to the team, they haven’t practiced as much as he would like for their conditioning. But, Huggins does say it’s up to them.

“Those guys have played enough and been around enough that they’ll tell me when they need a break,” Huggins said.

Could be another opportunity for guys like Seny N’Diaye, Seth Wilson, Jamel King and James Okonkwo to get some minutes.

Betting Lines

The spread for the West Virginia and Kansas State game is -8 WVU. The WVU money line is -375.

The over-under is 130.

As far as the spread, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to take WVU to cover since Kansas State is missing so many people. As a reminder, Sherman, Osabuohien and Kobe Johnson have not practiced much this week, so keep that in mind.

How to Watch and Listen

You can watch West Virginia take on Kansas State on Saturday, at 2 p.m., on ESPN+. The Big 12 Conference matchup between the Mountaineers and the Wildcats will take place inside the WVU Coliseum.

Mountaineer Sports Network will broadcast the game on the radio, with Tony Caridi and Jay Jacobs once again calling WVU games for the entirety of this season.

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Ethan Bock is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in journalism at WVU. He currently is an intern with the Final Fourcast podcast. Ethan has covered WVU football and men’s basketball for the last year. He is from Cincinnati, Ohio.

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