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.