The Mountaineers in the Standings After Week 5

Here we are staring down the barrel at Week 6, and WVU is getting a much-needed recuperation after the dramatic, gritty win in Ft. Worth on the road. Fortunately for football fans, lots of action is still happening this week with a direct impact on the latest standings of the conference. West Virginia is in third place in the conference behind undefeated Oklahoma and Texas, but Week 6 does not disappoint. This week features the Red River Rivalry neutral site game played annually between Oklahoma and Texas, determining who is the alpha of the conference in this small snapshot. Before we get into the breakdown of the Big 12 matchups this week, here is a look at the current standings if you just wanted a little jolt of excitement seeing us so close to the top. TEAM BIG 12 RECORD PCT.  OVERALL RECORD Oklahoma 2-0 1.000 5-0 Texas 2-0 1.000 5-0 West Virginia 2-0 1.000 4-1 Kansas State 1-0 1.000 3-1 BYU 1-1 .500 4-1 Kansas 1-1 .500 4-1 TCU 1-1 .500 3-2 Baylor 1-1 .500 2-3 Iowa State 1-1 .500 2-3 Texas Tech 1-1 .500 2-3 Oklahoma State 0-1 .000 2-2 UCF 0-2 .000 3-2 Cincinnati 0-2 .000 2-3 Houston 0-2 .000 2-3   Kansas State (3-1) @ Oklahoma State (2-2) Kansas State is back in action along with Oklahoma State after their respective bye weeks, playing this one on a Friday night headed into the weekend. All eyes are focused on what the Wildcats will do to pave their path back to defend their crown as the reigning Big 12 Champion. They should not have much of an issue getting the job done in Stillwater with a shell-shocked Cowboys program this season. Predicted to Win: Kansas State decisively wins. (12) Oklahoma vs. (3) Texas If you wanted to see the Red River Rivalry while it still has relevance for the Big 12, this is a noon kickoff, making it likely one of the marquee matchups of this time slot in the coming weekend. Both teams enter undefeated on the season, meaning one of them will take a pretty steep drop in the conference standings by not finishing on the right side of this score. I think the Longhorns are riding high right now and were not stalled by the Jayhawks, but this will likely be their final remaining test of the season. It's almost a touchdown in favor of UT, but it's time for the world to see if Oklahoma has what it takes. Predicted to Win: Texas in an aptly named shootout. UCF (3-2) @ Kansas (4-1) Both of these programs did not have a Week 5 that they expected. The Jayhawks, without their starting quarterback, were picked apart in Austin. The Golden Knights, also without their starting quarterback, choked in the 4th quarter to give up a 26-point lead to lose in the final minutes against the underwhelming Baylor Bears. I think that UCF takes advantage of KU being without Jalon Daniels this week and pulls away late. Predicted to Win: UCF if no QBs unexpectedly return. TCU (3-2) @ Iowa State (2-3) TCU needs to remind everyone that they went to the CFP and National Championship last year, and the best way to do that is to get back to their winning ways. They get served up a pretty soft punching bag this week in Iowa State, who is coming off a pretty brutal loss to Oklahoma last weekend. Predicted to Win: TCU bounces back big. Texas Tech (2-3) @ Baylor (2-3) Is Baylor back? No, I don’t think so. They pulled together something entertaining to watch last weekend and took advantage of a serious momentum shift against UCF. It might take more than that to shift gears for the whole season and take down a Tech team that might be clicking after coming off a win on the road against Holgorsen’s Cougars. They want to stay relevant in the conference by winning the ones they are supposed to, and this is example #1. I think they get the job done in Waco. Predicted to Win: Texas Tech in a nailbiter. If these predictions come to fruition, Kansas State would be tied with West Virginia for second with a 2-0 conference record and 4-1 overall, and Oklahoma would be in third, tied with TCU and Texas Tech. The New standings could look like: Texas (6-0, 3-0) Kansas State (4-1, 2-0) West Virginia (4-1, 2-0) Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) TCU (4-2, 2-1) Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) BYU (4-1, 1-1) Kansas (4-2, 1-2) UCF (3-3, 1-2) Baylor (2-4, 1-2) Iowa State (2-4, 1-2) Oklahoma State (2-3, 0-2) Cincinnati (2-3, 0-2) Houston (2-3, 0-2) Photo Credit: NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Gold jerseys, blue collars: Workmanlike effort results in ‘W’

West Virginia and Oklahoma State played a contest Monday night that can charitably be described as, aesthetically, hideous. The Mountaineers also won. WVU and coach Bob Huggins will take that over the opposite of both every time. West Virginia's 55-41 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., revealed a few things. It revealed who the better team was (WVU). It revealed who had more talent (WVU). And it revealed that this 2019-20 Mountaineers squad has the fortitude to put in the dirty work to grind out ugly but necessary victories against inferior Big 12 road opponents. That last part is important. With its 18-game, round-robin conference schedule, the Big 12 is ripe with opportunities for teams to lose games they should win - especially on the road. Monday night was just such an opportunity for West Virginia (12-2, 1-1 Big 12). The Mountaineers were coming off a quick turnaround from a tough road loss at Kansas into a road game at Oklahoma State (9-5, 0-2). They were coming off of playing in a peak-energy road atmosphere into a half-filled arena in Stillwater with an apathetic crowd. It was an early January game against a middling conference opponent. The recipe was there for a lackluster effort and a ho-hum road conference loss. But these Mountaineers aren't built for that. They play too hard. They defend too voraciously. They crash the glass with too much abandon. They are too deep. If the win over Ohio State showed this team's ceiling (and, in a less positive direction, so did the loss to Kansas), Monday night's grind over Oklahoma State showed this team's floor. West Virginia is limited by a below average offense that struggles to make shots. But WVU is also buoyed by relentless effort on the glass and on the defensive end of the floor. Shooting goes hot and cold. Those do not. West Virginia lacks the experience and scoring acumen to be a realistic Final Four contender. But the Mountaineers have the depth and intensity on defense and in rebounding to make significant noise in March. The Mountaineers aren't going to look pretty in games like these they should win. But they're going to win them.  

Kansas State Has Five Players Arrested Over Weekend

Over the course of the last three days, the Kansas State Football program has had five players arrested. According to Total Pro Sports, running back Jarcardia Wright, defensive back Wayne Jones, and linebackers Nick Allen, Daniel Green, and DeMarqueese Hayes found themselves in the “pin” with arrests beginning on Saturday. Head Coach Chris Klieman voiced his displeasure with his team in a statement released Tuesday, “I am extremely disappointed in the poor choices by some of our student-athletes. We have high expectations within our program, and when those expectations are not met, there are consequences.” Kansas State announced that no further comments will be made on the issues. Head Coach Chris Klieman is expected to deal with the punishments internally. https://twitter.com/kellisrobinett/status/1234884268775690240?s=21

West Virginia Has A Legitimate Chance Of Beating OU This Year

Morgantown, West Virginia - With Oklahoma being curb stomped by TCU today (55-24), it further brings home the point that anyone can beat anybody in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma, a team that had playoff aspirations under first-year Head Coach Brent Venables now falls to 3-2 (0-2) with back-to-back losses to Kansas State (at home), and TCU (at TCU). This really begs the question: How vulnerable is Oklahoma this season? The answer is pretty simple, VERY. If they can't beat Kansas State at home or the supposed bottom dweller TCU, then how are they going to beat West Virginia in Morgantown? Now, I don't think they will. I thought before the season started that WVU had a chance to beat them, but it has been back and forth all season long for me about who was gonna win. Now, I have my answer. Morgantown is a HARD place to visit and I don't think this year's Oklahoma team has it in them to beat the Mountaineers this season. For us, this is great! It will be the first time that West Virginia has EVER beaten the Sooners since joining the Big 12 in 2012. It would be a nice way to send them out of the conference. If West Virginia beats Texas today, both Oklahoma and Texas will be tied for dead last in the conference. They were picked to finish second and third in the conference respectively, but it is becoming less and less likely as we find out more about how these teams play. For the rest of the Big 12, this is GREAT news! Seeing those two leave the Big 12 on a sour note to the SEC is wonderful for West Virginia and the rest of the remaining conference, but what will this mean for them heading into the SEC?  It could show that they can't compete. If they cannot beat mediocre Big 12 schools, then how will they be able to compete with SEC talent? This year shows just a glimpse into what they will play like with new coaches, and at this current moment in time, it is NOT looking good for them.

REPORT: Arizona is Moving Towards Joining Big 12

Arizona to the Big 12 appears to be all but a done deal.   Tuscon, AZ - With conference realignment in full gear, many are anticipating who will make the next move that causes a ripple effect nationwide. It now appears that we have that answer. According to Pete Thamel of ESPN, Arizona is in “deep discussions” with the Big 12 about joining the conference. https://twitter.com/petethamel/status/1687262837582798848?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw Thamel also added that “some finality” is to be expected very soon as the Arizona Board of Regents has a meeting later tonight. Should the Wildcats make the move, then it is likely that Arizona State will also join the Big 12. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by University of Arizona Athletics)

BREAKING: 3 More Pac-12 Schools Will Join Big 12 in 2024

Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah will all join the Big 12 in 2024. Morgantown, WV - After days of speculation, it is being reported that three more Pac-12 school will officially be welcomed to the Big 12 in 2024. According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah will each join the Big 12 in 2024. The news is expected to become official in the next 24 hours pending the Big 12’s approval. https://twitter.com/brett_mcmurphy/status/1687584468716892160?s=46&t=cXIQ4JQG-pp-P6qrRwLwjw The Big 12 will now have at minimum 16 conference members in 2024. There have been no reports as to if the conference will extend anymore invites. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by WVU Athletics)

Iowa State could be a must win for WVU tournament hopes

West Virginia may or may not have to play in the NCAA Tournament play-in game in Dayton, Ohio, in a little more than two weeks. But it’s quite possible that the Mountaineers (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) game at Iowa State on Tuesday will serve as a de facto NCAA Tournament play-in game. At least for them. It’s unthinkable that we’re having this discussion. On Feb. 8, the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee had the Mountaineers as a No. 2 seed in its early reveal release. On March 1, West Virginia is staring into the abyss that is the NIT. West Virginia is 1-6 since that early reveal. It’s nearly impossible for a team to play itself from a No. 2 seed into a bubble team in less than a month. Yet here we are. How unprecedented is this slide? If the Mountaineers don’t make the tournament, they will be the only one of the 64 teams to earn a spot on the early reveal to miss out completely. And they will have done it as one of the best eight teams in the country at the time. Before Saturday’s 73-62 home loss to Oklahoma, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had West Virginia as a No. 7 seed. A home loss to a bubble team (Lunardi had the Sooners as one of his “last four in”) likely drops WVU a seed or two. WVU will likely go into the Iowa State game as a projected No. 8-10 seed, depending on the prognostication. A loss to a terrible Iowa State team will plummet those projections further. The lowest seeded at-large teams are usually seeded 11th. Lower than that, hello NIT. After Iowa State, WVU closes the season hosting No. 2 Baylor, a team that beat the Mountaineers, 70-59, in Waco, Texas, on Feb. 15. The game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Any realistic hope for a win there? That leaves Iowa State as the game the Mountaineers have the best chance of winning. If WVU loses to both Iowa State and Baylor, the Mountaineers will be a No. 7 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and will not get a bye. Even if they beat Iowa State and lose to Baylor, they would need TCU to lose one of its remaining games – at Kansas and at home against Oklahoma – just to get a Big 12 Tournament bye. A team that a little more than three weeks ago the official NCAA Tournament Selection Committee deemed to be one of the best eight in the country faces a likely do-for-die game against a 12-17 team that’s in next to last place in its conference. In a season filled with inexplicable turns, this might be the most unfathomable of all.

MOUNTAINEER MADNESS – The ultimate WVU NCAA tournament run – Sweet 16

Mid-March is annually the Holy days of college basketball. But in 2020, the gyms are silent and the NCAA Tournament will not be played for the first time since its inception in 1939. We will never know what would have been for the 2020 West Virginia Mountaineers in their quest for One Shining Moment. In it's place, let's use the Wayback Machine to look back at the best tournament games for the Mountaineers. We are selecting the best WVU game for each round of the tournament - Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four and National Championship Game. Each day will feature a new top WVU NCAA Tournament game, culminating with the finals. Part 3 of 6: Sweet 16 1959 East Regional; Charlotte, N.C. West Virginia 95, St. Joseph’s 92 Two amazing stats stand out when looking at the 1959 East Regional semifinal game between WVU and St. Joseph’s at Charlotte, N.C. One is how incredible it was that the two teams combined to score 187 points in a game without a shot clock or 3-point line. The other is to marvel at the otherworldly performance of WVU’s Jerry West. West finished with a double-double, scoring 36 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. It’s hard to overstate how much of a one-man wrecking crew West was generally and especially in this game. Zeke from Cabin Creek wasn’t just the game’s high scorer. He outscored the rest of the Mountaineers starting lineup, combined, 36-34. He was the only Mountaineer in double-figures in rebounding. Bench players James Ritchie and Lee Patrone had eight boards each. Here is another stat illustrating how much West carried the Mountaineers on this night. West shot 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) from the field in the regional semifinal win over the Hawks. The rest of the team hit 27.1 percent. West played 37 of the games 40 minutes. St. Joseph’s led, 48-42, at the half but West and the Mountaineers offense was a scoring machine in the second stanza as the Mountaineers rallied for victory. The Mountaineers were the Cardiac Kids in 1959. The rally against the Hawks was one of 14 come-from-behind victories for the national finalist Mountaineers. St. Joseph’s was ravaged by foul problems in the game. Four of the Hawks starters and five St. Joe’s players overall fouled out of the contest. Four Mountaineers hit double-figure scoring – West, Patrone (13), Willie Akers (13) and Bucky Bolyard (10). WVU’s Akers and Bob Clousson each had four personal fouls but each avoided picking up his fifth. St. Joseph’s Joe Gallo was the only Hawks starter not to foul out. He led St. Joseph’s with a team-high 22 points. Joe Spratt (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Bob Clarke (15 points, 13 rebounds) each tallied double-doubles despite fouling out in the loss. St. Joseph’s got the bye into the regional semifinals. WVU beat Dartmouth, 82-68, in New York in the opening round to advance to the regionals in Charlotte. Runner up: 2005  (7) WVU 65, (6)Texas Tech 60

Have defense, won’t travel: WVU not the same on the road

There’s an adage in sports that says, “defense travels.” The 2019-20 West Virginia basketball team seems intent on disproving it. West Virginia lost at Texas Tech, 89-81, Wednesday night. It is the Mountaineers (16-4, 4-3 Big 12) fourth loss in five road games this season. For a team that’s had few problems, the road performance is becoming a serious one. The loss at Texas Tech (13-7, 4-3) marked the second-straight road defeat to an unranked team for WVU. It also marked the second-straight road game where the one of the nation’s best defensive teams played nothing like it. The Red Raiders shot 54.3 percent from the field Wednesday night and 64.7 percent from 3-point range en route to scoring 89 points, their most in Big 12 play. TTU averaged 68 points a game in Big 12 games coming into the match up against WVU. West Virginia held Texas Tech to 54 points in the Mountaineers 66-54 win over the Red Raiders in Morgantown on Jan. 11. The loss at Texas Tech followed the same blueprint as the Mountaineers last road game. Kansas State put up also put up its Big 12 season-high in points when hosting WVU when the Wildcats beat WVU, 84-68, on Jan. 18. KSU averaged 58 points in Big 12 game before WVU arrived in Manhattan, Kan. The Mountaineers have the nation’s second-best field-goal defense, with opponents shooting 35.8 percent per contest. That defense hasn’t traveled. In their last two road games, West Virginia’s opponents made 56.8 percent of their shots. WVU’s road woes are troublesome, but they shouldn’t be unexpected. The Mountaineers are the least experienced team in the Big 12. Inexperience often leads to wide variance in splits between home and road performance. That’s certainly the case thus far for these young Mountaineers. WVU is 3-0 at home and 1-3 on the road in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers look like a conference championship and Final Four contender in the WVU Coliseum. They look like an NIT team on the opponent’s campus. The loss in Lubbock, Texas, Wednesday night puts a serious damper on West Virginia’s quest for a Big 12 regular-season title. The greater damage from the loss is the Mountaineers are afforded few remaining opportunities to score quality road wins to add to their resume. Quality road victories are the biggest asset towards building a team’s case to the NCAA Tournament committee, whether it’s in a case towards inclusion (not an issue for WVU) or for seeding placement (definitely an issue for WVU). To date, West Virginia has none. The only ranked road opponent left on WVU’ schedule is an incredibly difficult game at No. 1 Baylor on Feb. 15. The trappings attached to road conference play – the crowd, the officials, the travel, overlooking lesser opponents – overwhelm young teams more so than veteran ones. Veteran players have learned how to handle and overcome the challenges that road. The young Mountaineers are forced to learn under fire how to handle Big 12 play on the opposing campus. It’s not surprising they’re getting burned.

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.

Arizona to the Big 12 Picking Up Steam

Arizona is scheduled to hold a Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday. Could it be to discuss a move to the Big 12 Conference? Tucson, AZ - With Colorado set to join the Big 12 in 2024, several Pac-12 schools are now eyeing a move to greener pastures. One school that has continuously been brought up in realignment discussions has been the University of Arizona. Many expect the Wildcats to jump ship and join the Big 12 with the Buffaloes in 2024. Based upon recent reports by On3, this may not be too far fetched of an idea. https://twitter.com/On3sports/status/1686143006770872320?s=20 According to On3, Arizona has scheduled a Board of Regents meeting for Tuesday afternoon. While it hasn’t been announced what the meeting will be about, the outlet speculates that it will be to discuss the school’s potential move to the Big 12 Conference. Should an announcement be made tomorrow regarding Arizona’s future in the Big 12, this would put the conference at 14 members going into 2024. Stay tuned to The Voice of Motown for updates. (Photo by University of Arizona Athletics)

WVU conference home opener offers ranked foe

West Virginia's Big 12 home opener brings a ranked foe and one of the conference's upper echelon teams. The No. 17 Mountaineers (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) host No. 22 Texas Tech (10-4, 1-1) on Saturday night. The Red Raiders were the NCAA Tournament runner up last season, falling to Virginia in overtime in the tournament final. Early indications show a significant schism between the conference's top four teams and the rest. WVU and TTU are among those four. Each has lost to one of the other top teams in early conference play. WVU lost 60-53 at No. 3 Kansas and Texas Tech lost 57-52 at home to No. 4 Baylor on Monday night. The loss to Baylor snapped a five-game winning streak for the Red Raiders, which included a 70-57 win over top-ranked Louisville in New York. Texas Tech is led by freshman phenom Jami'us Ramsey. The Red Raiders guard leads Texas Tech with 17.7 points per contest. Ramsey (6-foot-4) also averages 5.3 rebounds a game. Senior guard Chris Clarke (6-6) paces Texas Tech on the glass, pulling down 8.6 rebounds a game. Clarke also leads the team in assists at 5.9 per contest. West Virginia's depth should be an advantage against the Red Raiders. Texas Tech has four players averaging more than 29 minutes a game (Ramsey, Clarke, Davide Moretti and Kyler Edwards). With two more (Terrence Shannon Jr. and T.J. Holyfield) tallying more than 23 minutes a contest, the Red Raiders figure to struggle over 40 minutes against a deep WVU squad. The Mountaineers have 10 players averaging double-digit minutes played and none averaging as many as 26 minutes. ESPN's BPI gives the Mountaineers a significant edge in the contest. The game tips at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

West Virginia Isn’t the WORST Team in the Big 12

  Cover Photo: Tyler Prusina, The DA Morgantown, West Virginia - During the preseason, we all had expectations on what the Big 12 would look like this season. Oklahoma and Baylor would round out the top, Oklahoma State and Texas would be competing for that third-place spot. Kansas State, WVU, and Texas Tech would be in the middle of the pack, and TCU and Kansas would be the bottom dwellers. Surprisingly in a weird Big 12, Oklahoma is the worst team in the league, and Kansas and TCU are the two best teams in the league. Now, you might be thinking, isn't West Virginia the worst team in the league? No, they aren't. Oklahoma is much worse, and has a real shot of being blown out by WEST VIRGINIA in Morgantown on November 12th. Even though WVU played against Texas's backup quarterback last week, they didn't have the neutral site advantage that Oklahoma had today. WVU played in a HOSTILE environment against a Texas team that is proving itself to NOT be out of the Big 12 title race by any stretch. Oklahoma played against the EXACT same defense that WVU did, but West Virginia was able to put up 20 points against them and not completely embarrass themselves. Oklahoma could not say the same this week with a 49-0 loss to the same Texas team that gave up 20 points to WVU last week. The Red River Showdown takes place in a neutral site field that is 50/50 for each fan base and by the time the second half started, the Sooners side started to leave like rats on a sinking ship. Then who can Oklahoma even beat this season? Honestly, there may not be another win on their schedule. The worst team that Oklahoma plays this season is West Virginia. I would say that would be a win if that was in Norman, but it is in Morgantown. The other plausible win they MIGHT have is against Iowa State, and that AGAIN is an away game for them. Oklahoma has Kansas next week, and the Jayhawks will be out for blood after today's heartbreaking loss against TCU. How big would a win against the Sooners be for the Mountaineers? For WVU and our fanbase? HUGE. WVU has never beaten OU since joining the Big 12. It doesn't matter how bad Oklahoma is, a win against the Sooners before they leave for the SEC will be a MASSIVE momentum boost for the Mountaineers.

Kansas game pivotal for WVU’s season hopes

The term "must win" is over used in the sports world. West Virginia's game against Kansas Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum isn't a "must" win for the Mountaineers. But a win would sure help their cause. The bad news regarding Wednesday's game is WVU is up against the No. 3 team in the nation and a consensus No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The good news is the game is in Morgantown, where this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde home/road split team takes on its Dr. Jekyll role. This game takes on added importance coming off of another road loss Saturday at Oklahoma and with this Saturday's game at No. 1 Baylor on the horizon. It's likely the Mountaineers best-case scenario for this three-game sandwich is to get a meaty win between two road losses. A win Wednesday night gives the Mountaineers that elusive "signature" win they lack for their NCAA Tournament resume. Currently, the best win for WVU thus far is a home victory over Texas Tech, ranked 17th in Tuesday's NET rankings. The NET is the rankings used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Beating Kansas (fourth in the NET) would be a huge boost for the Mountaineers case to be a high seed and play closer to home in the NCAA Tournament. A loss Wednesday and the Mountaineers are staring an ugly three-game losing streak in the face and the possibility of four losses in their last five games. WVU coach Bob Huggins ripped his squad after its 69-59 loss at Oklahoma Saturday afternoon, saying his team didn't have the same discipline and commitment it showed early in the season. If WVU loses to Kansas, those concerns become exasperated, not relieved. It's not hyperbole to say the Mountaineers are at a turning point of their season. Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, WVU has made massive strides to bounce back from last year's disaster. But the success West Virginia has experienced this season has led to changes in goals and perspectives. The Mountaineers are going to make the NCAA Tournament. Now, for fans - and hopefully the team itself - that won't be enough. They want to see multiple tourney wins. A team's successful tournament run doesn't start in mid March. It usually starts in how it plays in February. The time is now for the Mountaineers.  

Should the Big 12 get really big?

Part 1 of 2 The Big 12 has been on the receiving end of no shortage of criticism. Much of it deserved. The biggest criticism leveled on the conference, from its inception in 1994, is its timidity. In the topsy-turvy world of college sports conference aggression, the Big 12 has ALWAYS been on the defensive. Sure, the conference could poach TCU and West Virginia from the dying Big East. But when it comes dealing with the big boys – the other Power 5 conferences – the Big 12 has always been the prey, never the predator. Maybe that’s about to change. In June 2010, more than a year before West Virginia announced its intention to join the conference, the Big 12 almost died. At the time the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) was in serious negations to pluck the conference's crown jewels – Texas and Oklahoma – plus Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas Tech and Texas A&M and add them to the West Coast league. Reports later confirmed that the move was all but finished before a change of heart by Texas put the kibosh on the prospective deal. The Big 12’s acquiescence on allowing Texas to operate its own television network (the Longhorn Network) led to Texas to stay in the Big 12 and save the conference. The Big 12 would eventually still lose Colorado to the Pac-12, Texas A&M to the SEC and Nebraska to the Big Ten. The latter two opened the Big 12 door to TCU and West Virginia. After Louisville left the Big East to join the ACC in 2014 (replacing Maryland, which bolted for the Big Ten), the Power 5 football conferences have found a level of stability unseen in the past 30 years. But in the dog-eat-dog world of intercollegiate conference realignment, if your conference isn’t the predator, it’s probably the prey. In 2016, the Big 12 flirted with the idea of expansion before eventually backtracking and deciding to stay at 10 teams. That foray again involved the Big 12 looking at Group of 6 conference teams as possible new members. It’s possible next time the Big 12 goes looking for bigger game. The Big 12 is in a solid place financially. The conference is third in revenue-per-team. It trails behind the biggest of the big boys – the SEC and Big Ten – but is competitive with the ACC and doing significantly better than the Pac-12. On his recent podcast, The Athletic’s college sports guru Andy Staples praised the Big 12’s current leadership and talked about the possibility of the Big 12 turning the tables on the Pac-12 and stealing the best programs from the West Coast league for itself. “The Big 12 is actually pretty well run, and it has a pretty good set of TV deals,” Staples said. “Not as good as the SEC and the Big Ten, but pretty good.” Staples goes on to propose the Big 12 poach USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington and form a truly national 16-team mega conference. Current Pac-12 members aren’t happy with the current revenue situation in the conference, and they might be looking at non Pac-12 conferences as a means of improving it. USC athletic director Mike Bohn expressed dissatisfaction with his school’s current revenue stream and said “everything is on the table” regarding USC’s conference future. “There’s not talk of (leaving now), but guess what? If it was on the table, we would certainly explore that,” Bohn told CBS Sports. This isn’t exactly a “no-brainer” of a situation, neither from the Big 12 nor the proposed new members. For the Big 12, any expansion this large would need to bring with it A LOT more money via television deals to make it work. It’s possible that adding programs with the pedigree of USC and the others would generate the kind of TV-rights spike that makes the move profitable for everyone. But it’s not a guarantee that it would, either. On the potential new schools’ side, this move would be a monumental shift in their athletic programs and disrupt a century of rivalries and partnerships. Would the increase profitability be worth the disruption? Would the state legislatures of California, Oregon and Washington allow the four schools from those states to leave their in-state brethren high and dry? What about the additional travel burden to both the schools and their fans? Is the money worth any and all these and other issues? If the history of the cutthroat world of conference pilfering has taught us anything it’s that money talks and everything else walks. It’s also taught us that the Big 12 hasn’t shown itself to be a skilled hunter in this world. There’s nothing that will likely change the former. But maybe the Big 12 is ready to change the latter. Part 2: What would a mega Big 12/16 conference look like? How would it work? What would it mean for WVU?