Tuesday Truths: Why West Virginia leads the Big 12

Welcome to Tuesday Truths, where I look at how well 86 teams in the nation's top seven conferences are doing against their league opponents on a per-possession basis.

*Through games of Feb. 8, conference games only
Pace: Possessions per 40 minutes
PPP: Points per possession
EM: Efficiency margin (PPP minus Opp. PPP)

How to appreciate the Big 12's underappreciated first-place team

There's a fair chance West Virginia will lose its next game, simply because the Mountaineers are playing Kansas in Lawrence (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2). Bill Self is 202-9 (.957) as the Jayhawks' head coach in Allen Fieldhouse, so saying the percentages are against Bob Huggins and his men would be putting it mildly.

Still, WVU is facing this daunting challenge in sole possession of first place in the nation's top-rated conference (per kenpom.com). Devin Williams is unsurpassed in the Big 12 in terms of drawing fouls and pulling down defensive boards, and teammate Jaysean Paige is easily the league's most valuable "reserve." Whether your preferred standard of comparison is Baylor's Taurean Prince last season or Syracuse's Dion Waiters back in the day, Paige is a featured scorer who just happens to watch the opening tip from the sideline. Make that an underrated featured scorer: Paige has made a higher percentage of his 2s this season than KU's Wayne Selden, Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon or Wichita State's Ron Baker. No wonder Huggins chuckles at the enduring urban legend that says he never has any quote-unquote shooters.