Tuesday, October 3, 2023

No. 12 WVU hosts streaking TCU

West Virginia looks for its third-straight win Tuesday night when the Mountaineers host the surprise team of the Big 12. TCU (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) was a consensus pick to finish in the conference basement in the Big 12 preseason pool, but the Horned Frogs are off to a strong starting, including winning their first three conference games (Kansas State, 59-57; Oklahoma State, 52-40; Iowa State, 81-79). TCU is tied with No. 2 Baylor atop the conference standings. WVU (13-2, 2-1) has won a pair of conference games after dropping the Big 12 opener in Kansas. Freshman guard Miles McBride continues his rise as one of the Mountaineers best players after scoring a career-best 22 points in Saturday night's win over Texas Tech. TCU is led by senior Desmond Bane (6-foot-6), who leads the team with 17.1 points a game. Bane also tallies seven rebounds a game and 3.5 points a contest. Sophomore Kevin Samuel (6-11) paces the Horned Frogs on the glass, pulling down 8.9 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard R.J. Nembhard leads TCU with 3.6 assists a game. Bane, Nembhard (13.1) and Samuel (10.8) average double-digit scoring for the Horned Frogs. Bane (35.5 minutes a game) and Nembhard (318 mpg) see heavy floor time for TCU, but the Horned Frogs have depth outside of those two. Nine Horned Frogs average more than 12 minutes of playing time a contest. The TCU game is the second of a stretch where the Mountaineers are playing six of eight at home. The game tips off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU. WVU is a 7 1/2 point favorite. ESPN's BPI heavily favors the Mountaineers.

Baylor presents small problem for WVU

When West Virginia travels to Waco Saturday, the Mountaineers are going to face their mini-me. Baylor, like WVU, plays hard-nosed defense. Baylor, like WVU, doesn't play an aesthetically pleasing form of basketball. But, as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking and 21-game winning streak, the Bears play an effective form of basketball. Where the mini-me comparison comes in is that unlike West Virginia, which relies heavily on the Twin Towers front line of sophomore Derek Culver (6-foot-11) and Oscar Tshiewbe (6-9), Baylor is led by a guard-heavy lineup. Five of the Bears top six scorers are guards, none bigger than 6-3. Their lone inside presence is senior forward Freddie Gillespie (6-9). Gillespie leads the Bears in rebounding (8.9 per game) and is fourth in scoring (9-8 point per game). The winner of the chess match between WVU coach Bob Huggins and Baylor coach Scott Drew likely will be which coach can better exploit his team's advantage - WVU's size or Baylor's quickness. Along those lines, expect Huggins to go small Saturday afternoon. That could mean more rotations with point guards Jordan McCabe and Miles McBride playing together. Maybe we'll see some three-guard sets that include Brandon Knapper, Taz Sherman and/or Chase Harler. Big guard Jermain Haley (6-7) might play a greater role underneath. Whatever we see Satuday as the Mountaineers try to pull the upset in Waco, Texas, expect it to be a "little" different.

REPORT: Colorado Having “Discussions” About Move to the Big 12

Pete Thamel of ESPN reports that Colorado is “in discussions” regarding a move to the Big 12 Conference.   Boulder, CO - According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Colorado has completed a board meeting and is officially “in discussions” about a move to the Big 12 Conference. https://twitter.com/petethamel/status/1684308770065641476?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw The school has another meeting scheduled for tomorrow, and is expected to continue discussions about the potential realignment of their athletics. Thamel would add that the Big 12 is also holding a presidents meeting that will take place tonight. An update on the conference’s expansion is said to be discussed. The school is expected to make a move within the next 48 hours, per Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority. https://twitter.com/jasonscheer/status/1684311955580788738?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by Colorado Athletics)

Mountaineers Big 12 Tournament landing spot odds

There are 10 seeds in the Big 12 Tournament. With only one game remaining before they embark to Kansas City to participate in their eighth Big 12 Tournament, the West Virginia Mountaineers could hold any one of five of them. The Mountaineers (20-10, 8-9 Big 12) could be as high as a No. 3 seed and as low as a No. 7 seed when they hit Kansas City next week. Their landing spot in the tournament is dependent on not only the outcome of their home game against No. 4 Baylor, but also the results of a number of other Big 12 match ups on Saturday. Obviously the higher the seed West Virginia obtains the better. But not all seeding differences are the same. The biggest gap is between seeds No. 6 and No. 7. The reason being a top six seed is so important is that seeds seven through 10 don't get a bye and have to play in the tournament's opening round on Wednesday night. Here's a look at the route available to each possible seed. WVU is a No. 3 seed if: West Virginia beats Baylor and Texas Tech loses at home to Kansas and Texas loses at home to Oklahoma St and Oklahoma loses at TCU Likelihood of this happening (all odds per ESPN BPI): 5 percent WVU is at least a No. 4 seed if: West Virginia beats Baylor and Oklahoma loses at TCU and Texas Tech loses at home to Kansas or Texas loses at home to Oklahoma State Likelihood of this happening: 22 percent WVU is at least a No. 5 seed if: West Virginia beats Baylor and Oklahoma loses at TCU Likelihood of this happening: 26 percent WVU is at least a No. 6 seed if: West Virginia beats Baylor or TCU loses at home to Oklahoma Likelihood of this happening: 77 percent WVU is a No. 7 seed if: West Virginia loses to Baylor and Oklahoma loses at TCU Likelihood of this happening: 23 percent

REPORT: Big 12 to Add 17th and 18th Member By End of 2023

The Big 12 will continue to look for expansion possibilities through the end of 2023, per reports. Morgantown, WV - Earlier this evening, the Big 12 voted to add Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah to the league in 2024. This will bring the total number of conference members to 16 next year. While many think the expansion will stop there, that will not be the case. According to Jamie Plunkett of Horned Frog Blitz (247Sports), the Big 12 will look to add a 17th and 18th conference member by the end of 2023. Two teams that Plunkett mentioned as possible extension candidates were UConn (Independent) and Oregon State (Pac-12). https://twitter.com/frogpreacher/status/1687631934111752192?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw Florida State was also mentioned as a potential candidate, but only if nothing comes of a move to either the Big Ten or SEC. Oregon State, who is one of the four remaining teams in the Pac-12, has formally made their pitch to the Big 12 in hopes of an invitation, per Plunkett. Things are about to get wild in collegiate athletics. The Voice of Motown will bring you updates as they become available. (Photo by WVU Athletics) 

F is for the effort WVU shows in loss

A young West Virginia team was taken to school in Manhattan, Kan. Saturday afternoon in an 84-68 whipping at the hands of Kansas State. The lesson: When the Mountaineers play with energy and intensity, they are capable of beating anyone. When they don’t, they’re capable of losing to everyone. Except for a frantic, five-or-so-minute long stretch midway through the second half, the Mountaineers (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) played sloppy and lethargic basketball. It was as unsightly as the score indicates. West Virginia has one of, if not the, best defenses in the country. That suffocating defense didn’t make the trip west. West Virginia came into Saturday’s game allowing opponents to shoot 35 percent from the field. Kansas State (8-9, 1-4) shot 59.2 percent from the field and 9-of-18 from 3-point range. This from a team that came into the game with a field-goal percentage of 41.7 percent. That’s not the result a team (KSU) getting hot in its home gym. It’s the result of an elite defensive team (WVU) not giving its typical effort. The Mountaineers out-rebound their opponents by 7.6 rebounds per game. Saturday, they were plus-1 on the glass. Part of that is a result of how well Kansas State shot the ball. Part of it was the Mountaineers not playing up to their usual standard. WVU wasn’t much better offensively. The Mountaineers were dreadful from the outside (6-of-22 on 3-point shots) and turned the ball over 18 times. Gabe Osabuohien was one of the few bright spots in Saturday’s debacle. Osabuohien continued to be a spark plug of energy and effort for the Mountaineers. He had a season-high 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting and he pulled down five rebounds before fouling out. Chase Harler also had his best offensive game of the season with a team-high 11 points. Miles McBride (11 points) was the only other Mountaineer in double figures. It was obvious early and more obvious late that West Virginia took struggling Kansas State lightly. Giving lackadaisical effort is going to result in a loss most of the time on the road in Power 6 basketball. It happens all over the college basketball map. Earlier in the week, No. 3 Duke lost at Clemson. WVU is not immune to these types of games. West Virginia will bounce back from this. Expect coach Bob Huggins to use this loss as the teaching tool that it should be. This wasn’t the Mountaineers first road conference loss this season (they’ve lost two of their three road Big 12 games so far). It won’t be their last. But, hopefully, it will be their last that can be attributed to poor effort.

Big 12 Receives First of Four Expected Applications

Photo Courtesy Mark Humphrey Associated Press   The University of Cincinnati has just submitted their application to join the Big 12 Conference. This comes just weeks after the first reports came out that the conference had four teams in mind to add. BYU, Houston, and UCF are expected to join Cincinnati in sending applications. https://twitter.com/Enquirer/status/1435671154128216064?s=20

Today’s Battles with WVU Season ImplicationsNever thought we'd be rooting for JT Daniels, huh?

With Kansas putting together a pretty strong showing last night at home against Big Ten’s Illinois 34-23, let’s look at a few Big 12 games that you should pay close attention to this weekend to get a feel for how specific teams are developing heading out of Week 2. It is worth mentioning that (11)Texas is playing at (3)Alabama, and likely the highest marquee matchup of the weekend, but it does not directly impact WVU's path during the conference schedule. Here are some matchups you should watch today featuring later-season opponents: 12:00 pm, ESPN, (12) Utah @ Baylor (FPI favors Utah 73.5%) Following a disappointing start to the season at McLane Stadium against Texas State, Baylor looks to bounce back. The crazy thing about Dave Aranda teams? They can lose to a Sun Belt team one weekend and take a ranked team the distance the following week. This weekend will show whether Baylor is a team destined for the Big 12 basement. 6:30 pm, CW Network, Cincinnati @ Pitt (FPI favors Pitt 59.8%) This one features two of our upcoming opponents and will serve as a testament to the kind of team Narduzzi is bringing into Morgantown on the 16th. 7:00 pm, FOX, (13) Oregon @ Texas Tech (FPI favors Oregon 67.4%) This game will likely be a lot closer than many might think. While Wyoming took Tech the distance, I think they have spent more of the summer months preparing for this matchup. As their home opener, this will be closer than predictors think. 7:00 pm, FS1, UCF @ Boise State (FPI favors UCF 77.6%) UCF is a clear favorite here, but much of this lopsidedness is based on how successful Washington University was last weekend when the Broncos started the season on the road. In their home opener with a very loyal and loud fanbase, this is a tougher road game for UCF than it might seem – also a good look at what to expect down the stretch from the Golden Knights. 7:00 pm, NFL NET, Houston @ Rice (FPI favors Houston 68.8%) Remember JT Daniels? Yeah, he’s starting for Rice now. He’s not off to a fantastic start, but Houston’s game with UTSA was a little lackluster last weekend, too. Also, Rice's numbers might be slightly skewed since game one was on the road for the Texas Longhorns home opener. Let’s see how their own home season schedule begins and learn if Houston is a team that can nab a decisive win. Image by The Roost

Bear minimum – Pasting by Baylor shows how far WVU has to go

West Virginia lost, 70-59 at No. 1 Baylor on Saturday. It was the No. 14 Mountaineers seventh loss of the season, their sixth in Big 12 play. But Saturday’s loss wasn’t like the other six. For the first time this season, the Mountaineers (18-7, 6-6 Big 12) were overwhelmed by their opposition. There was no energy disparity, no sloppy fundamentals, no cold shooting, no poor adjustment to playing on the road, no referee errors to attribute as the cause of WVU’s defeat. Yes, WVU could have played more inspired. The Mountaineers could have used a better shooting effort – another awful effort, 19-for-55 on Saturday. WVU has still to show it can win a conference road game against anyone outside the Big 12 basement. If you’re among the conspiracy-minded folks, insert your own “the refs are out to get the ‘Eers!” collusion plan here. But none of those are why WVU lost on Saturday. The reason Baylor (23-1, 12-0) beat West Virginia is Baylor has better players. The Mountaineers had no answer for the Bears quickness and athleticism. While Baylor went through and around the bigger Mountaineers, WVU looked like it was playing the game in work boots. Baylor had no problem with West Virginia’s superior size. West Virginia had not answer for Baylor’s superior quickness. The Bears are good. Ridiculously so. They’re the number one team in the nation and have been for more than a month. Saturday was their 22nd-straight victory overall and 12th-straight Big 12 victory (both school records). The craziest stat reflecting how dominant – and how consistent – Baylor has been? The Bears haven’t trailed in any home game by more than four points. Saturday’s matchup at Baylor would answer how well the Mountaineers stack up against probably the best team in America. The answer? They don’t. The Mountaineers performance in Waco, Texas, on Saturday also offers fans a dose of uncomfortable clarity. The first 24 games showed that West Virginia is an NCAA Tournament-worthy team. Saturday’s loss shows the Mountaineers aren’t Final Four contenders. Fans should adjust their expectations accordingly. This is a young team (most inexperienced in the Big 12). While nothing is guaranteed in college basketball, if the right combination of players return, next season has the chance to be special for WVU. But the Baylor defeat shows how far this team has to go.

BREAKING: Big 12 Has Approved Colorado’s Move to the Conference

Pete Thamel of ESPN has reported that the Big 12 voted unanimously to approve Colorado’s move to the league. Boulder, CO - Moments ago, Pete Thamel of ESPN reported that the Big 12 has voted “unanimously” to approve Colorado’s move to the conference in 2024. https://twitter.com/petethamel/status/1684398441907064832?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw However, Thamel also states that Colorado has not officially applied to become a member. That process is expected to take place on Thursday. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by Colorado Athletics)

Huggins new Mountaineers built to play old school basketball

This season’s version of West Virginia’s basketball roster is highlighted by how much is new. But the Mountaineers success likely will depend on a style of play that is definitively old. Modern basketball has become dominated by long-range shooting. Analytics show a clear preference for the 3-point shot over mid-range and post-up play to maximize scoring efficiency. Teams have become smaller and quicker over the past 10-15 years. The big man - once the dominant force in basketball - has become an afterthought, if not an albatross https://www.theringer.com/nba/2019/12/2/20991249/post-up-dead-nba-brooklyn-nets-joel-embiid. WVU coach Bob Huggins has shown he is nothing if not adaptive during his Hall of Fame-worthy career. When he took over the Mountaineers in 2007-08, he inherited a team recruited by departed coach John Beilein. The styles of the two coaches couldn’t be different - Huggins relied on stingy man-to-man defense and gritty and relentless rebounding. Beilein, by contrast, coached defense as second fiddle and rebounding as optional. Beilein’s teams relied on sharp shooting and efficient offense. Those Mountaineer teams overcame a weakness on the glass with solid outside shooting and by avoiding turnovers. When Huggins inherited a Mountaineers roster that was built on the Beilein philosophy, he adapted. The man-to-man adherent often adopted Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone. It worked well enough that Huggins led his first West Virginia squad to the Sweet 16 and an overtime loss from the Elite Eight. As Huggins brought in his own recruits, the Mountaineers moved more into the Huggins style. But even in that transition, Huggins continued adaptations. Beginning with the freshmen class led by Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr., Huggins shifted from a half-court man-to-man defense to a full-court, aggressive trapping defense that came to be known as Press Virginia. Seeing a team that had an abundance of quickness and tenacious defenders but lacked scoring punch, Huggins molded his style around his talent. Rather than forcing the square peg in the round hole, he switched the hole. Now, Huggins has a team that is completely suited for old school, pound the ball in the paint basketball. The power duo of freshman five-star recruit Oscar Tshiebwe (6-foot-9, 245 pounds) and sophomore Derek Culver (6-10, 255) have the size, strength and skill to dominate the post. If/when these two develop a symmetry on the floor, they can be the best low-post duo in the Big 12 and one of the best in the country. While this type low-post dominated game is “outdated,” it’s perfectly suited to the skill set of the 2019-20 Mountaineers. Modern basketball is an outside shooting centric round holes. No need for the Mountaineers to try and force their square-peg roster into it.

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_word_for_%22crisis%22. 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 https://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/bracketology. 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 http://voiceofmotown.com/mountaineers-big-12-tournament-landing-spot-odds/. 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.

Wren Baker Responds to Arizona State AD

WVU Athletic Director Wren Baker responds to Arizona State’s Ray Anderson on Twitter. Morgantown, WV - In case you haven’t heard, Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson claimed that he will not make any trips to Morgantown for Big 12 play. He made it clear that he favors regional opponents, and West Virginia just does not fit that description. Earlier today, WVU Athletic Director Wren Baker sent out a tweet that was clearly a response to Anderson. Baker was short and sweet in his message. “There are two kinds of people in the world. People who love West Virginia and people who haven’t been here.” https://twitter.com/wrenbaker/status/1688202025333293056?s=20   Arizona State is set to join the Big 12 in 2024. If the Sun Devils are slated to travel to Morgantown in their inaugural season, one could certainly bet that Mountaineer Nation will be ready for them. (Photo by WVU Athletics)

WVU looks to turn horns down and intensity up against Texas

West Virginia tries to rebound from its worst performance of the season when the Mountaineers host Texas in a Big 12 showdown Monday night. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The No. 14 Mountaineers (14-3, 3-2 Big 12) were blown out for the first time this season in a 84-68 loss at Kansas State on Saturday. They return home looking to cleanse the stench from their performance in Manhattan, Kan., against unranked Texas (12-5, 2-3). The Longhorns are coming off of a 66-57 home loss to No. 3 Kansas on Saturday. The Longhorns possess a balanced offensive attack, led by junior guard Matt Coleman III (6-foot-2) with 12.0 points a game. He also leads Texas in assists at 4.3 per game. Coleman is one of four Longhorns to average double-figure scoring alongside Courntey Ramey (11.1 ppg), Andrew Jones (10.4) and Jase Febres (10.1). Junior forward Jericho Sims (6-9) leads Texas on the glass with 8.1 rebounds a contest and adds 9.7 ppg in scoring. Depth figures to be an issue for Texas against a deeper Mountaineers squad. Coleman, Ramey and Febres all average more than 30 minutes a game and the Longhorns starting five all average more than 24 minutes of floor time. By contrast, no Mountaineer averages as many as 30 minutes a game. The entire Texas starting five average more than anyone for West Virginia. Adding the long road trip and the quick turnaround from the Longhorns tough game against Kansas Saturday to this mix and the Mountaineers have a good chance to wear down Texas. WVU is a 9 point favorite. ESPN's BPI gives the Mountaineers a heavy analytical edge in the game.

Big 12 Conference Play Will Be a Litmus Test

Big 12 Conference play starts at the beginning of the new year, and each of its members, including WVU, will face a true measure of who’s a contender and who’s a pretender. The Big 12 is arguably the best conference in the nation currently with 3 top 10 teams, 5 top 25 teams, and the top two “others receiving votes” teams. The only other conference that may be able to contend with the top talent in the Big 12 is the Pac 12, with 3 teams themselves in the top 10, but from top to bottom, the Big 12 is superior. The Big 12 currently has a combined overall record of 96-16 so far this season. These wins aren’t just against inflated by beating up on poor opponents. The Big 12 Is 2nd in total Q1 wins, 3rd in total Q2 wins, and 3rd in total Q1 + Q2 wins despite having 4 less teams than the two conferences ahead of them (Big 10 and SEC). Additionally, the bottom of the Big 12 is stronger than the bottom of all the other conferences, and it is not close. The Big 12 has the least Q3 and Q4 losses of any Power 5 conference. Every other conference has at least 4 times as many losses to Q3 and Q4 opponents on the season. Big 12 Conference is going to going to hurt its members in as many ways as it No game is going to be a “gimme” for any team this year. Oklahoma State and TCU may be the weakest of the bunch, but they will each win several games. Baylor and Kansas are likely the teams to beat, but they will each have several losses. Every team will take it’s lumps, but by the time Selection Sunday rolls around, those that come out with a .500 record or better will move on an be a formidable opponent for any potential matchup come tournament time. For WVU, Big 12 play will pit Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil against some of the best defenses they will see all season. The defense of Keddie Johnson, Gabe Osabuohien, and Pauly Paulicap will be tested against teams with strong guard play and others who rely on length and athleticism. And young, developing stars like Kobe Johnson, Isaiah Cottrell, and Jalen Bridges will face an opportunity to raise their games up as teams try to counter WVU’s two-headed monster offensively. Bob Huggins has a with as much or more talent from top to bottom than it ever has. If WVU can adapt, rise to the challenge, and persevere, the Mountaineers ceiling is limitless.   Check out more of Brandon's analysis on the Mountaineers' basketball team and Big 12 play on the Voice of Motown Podcast below! https://open.spotify.com/show/57Dfw10urlEo8GBstpKrYy?si=64b7c5aaae1d4ca9