Baylor offers WVU a great challenge, opportunity

Western interpretation often cites that the Chinese language uses the same character for “crisis” as it does “opportunity.”

While this has been widely accepted and repeated, is not entirely factual in regards to the Chinese language

But it is true regarding West Virginia’s season finale against No. 4 Baylor.

The game tips off at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum. The game is only available for broadcast online via ESPN+. It’s senior day for WVU seniors Jermaine Haley, Chase Harler and Logan Routt.

The reeling Mountaineers (20-10, 8-9 Big 12) stopped the bleeding on Tuesday with a 77-71 win at Iowa State. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and ended a six losses in seven games slide.

Despite the win, ESPN’s Bracketology dropped WVU to a No. 8 seed in its latest tournament projection

WVU is currently in sixth place in the Big 12. A loss to Baylor on Saturday coupled with a TCU home victory over Oklahoma would drop the Mountaineers to a seven seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament. That’s critical because a six seed means a opening-night bye. A seventh seed doesn’t get the bye

That is the crisis West Virginia faces.

Here is the opportunity.

While Baylor (26-3, 15-2) isn’t exactly struggling like WVU, the Bears haven’t been the dominant force of late that they were most of the season. Baylor spent the bulk of the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation. The Bears spent more than a month atop the polls. That reign ended when they lost at home to Kansas, 64-61, on Feb. 22. The loss to Kansas snapped school-record winning streaks of 23 games overall and 13 straight in conference.

The Bears won 24 of their first 25 games. They’ve only won two of their last four. In their last game they needed overtime to pull out a 71-68 home victory over Texas Tech.

Baylor might not be “ripe for the picking” for a Mountaineers team that, despite their win on Tuesday, are in the midst of an awful month of basketball. But the Bears aren’t playing like the juggernaut that overwhelmed WVU, 70-59, in Waco, Texas, on Feb. 15.

A win over Baylor clinches at least a six seed in the Big 12 Tournament and thus the important bye. A victory over the No. 4 team in the country also surely will boost the Mountaineers NCAA Tournament resume and thus their seed. It could be the difference between a No. 8 seed and a No. 6 seed. That’s important.

ESPN’s BPI analytics actually give WVU the edge in the contest, despite Baylor’s high ranking.

The Mountaineers will either be overwhelmed by a daunting crisis or they will seize a great opportunity.

Whichever it is, it is up to them.