For the third year in a row, West Virginia gets a chance to capture its first Big 12 tournament title. Standing in the Mountaineers’ way, unsurprisingly, is a top-seeded Kansas side that has already beaten West Virginia twice this season.
The Big 12 championship starts Saturday at 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch the game live on your computer, phone or other streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to their extensive Netflix-like streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including ESPN. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the game on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: ESPN is included in all of DirecTV Now’s four main channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months. Once signed up, you can watch the game live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: ESPN is included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the game live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
Note: You can also watch the game on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. You’ll need to sign in to a TV provider to watch this way, but you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now or Sling TV credentials to do that.
Kansas may have won both head-to-head matchups this season, but the most recent meeting was hardly cut-and-dry. West Virginia led by as many as 12 in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse, but Kansas fought back and finished the game on a 19-3 run to win by eight. The main talking point afterwards was the discrepancy of free throws.
“They shot 29 free throws,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said afterwards. “We shot two. You don’t think that had anything to do with it?”
Kansas actually ended up shooting 35 free throws, but Huggins wasn’t around to see several at the end after being ejected in the final moments. Either way, it was certainly West Virginia’s most painful loss of the season, and the Mountaineers will be eager for revenge in Kansas City on Saturday night.
The key to this game comes on the interior. With 7-foot-0, 280-pound center Udoka Azubuike sidelined for the tournament with a sprained MCL, the Jayhawks have been forced to turn to lightly-used Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa at center. Lightfoot has been serviceable, and De Sousa, who joined the team in the middle of the year and played a total of 52 minutes during the regular season, has come up big with 14 points and 19 rebounds in two games, but the interior defense has been lacking.
After Kansas State’s Makol Mawien toasted the Jayhawks for a career-high 29 points in the semifinals, Kansas coach Bill Self stated that his team offered “no resistance at all.”
“[Maiwen] was by far the best player in the game. And he whipped us,” Self said.
Things could get considerably more difficult for Kansas’ thin frontcourt on Saturday. The Mountaineers don’t have a lot of height, but they’re a relentless, physical team that ranks fourth in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. Even if the shots aren’t falling from Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles, they should get lots of second and third chances.
Of course, if Malik Newman continues to shoot the ball like he has the last two games, none of that will matter. The Mississippi State transfer has poured in 52 points on a blistering 19-of-29 shooting and 10-of-15 from beyond the arc in two games in Kansas City. And with two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Carter likely locked up with Big 12 Player of the Year Devonte’ Graham, Newman should see plenty of looks in this one, especially early in the shot clock if Kansas can solve West Virginia’s press.
Put it all together, and this sets up as a fantastic battle to decide the Big 12 tournament champion.