West Virginia’s game Wednesday night against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, isn’t a must win. The Mountaineers (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) are on more than solid footing as they head into the final third of the regular season.
But a road win against a good if not great Red Raiders team is needed to show themselves, their fans and the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee that they can beat a good team on its home floor.
West Virginia has had several solid wins this year. But none have been true road games. Wichita State and Ohio State (this one becomes less impressive by the day) were on neural courts while wins over ranked Texas Tech and blowouts over Texas and then-ranked TCU all came in the friendly confines of the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers are 1-3 in true road games, losing 70-68 at St. John’s in December, falling 60-53 to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse and playing their worst game of the year in an inexplicable 84-68 defeat at Kansas State. WVU’s lone road win came at Oklahoma State, 55-41.
Road victories over good teams are the strongest asset in building an NCAA Tournament resume. After Wednesday, the only road game West Virginia has left against a ranked is a dozy of a challenge. WVU travels to Waco, Texas, on Feb. 18 for game at No. 1 Baylor.
Besides Baylor and Texas Tech, WVU also has scheduled road trips to Oklahoma (Feb. 8), TCU (Feb. 22) and Texas (Feb. 24). But none of those have the cache that a win at TTU or Baylor can provide.
Wednesday’s matchup is a chance for WVU to continue its pursuit of the school’s first-ever Big 12 regular-season title. It’s also an opportunity for the Mountaineers to add a piece currently missing from their NCAA Tournament resume.