LAWRENCE, KANSAS - JANUARY 04: Head coach Bob Huggins of the West Virginia Mountaineers talks with Oscar Tshiebwe #34 during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on January 04, 2020 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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Morgantown, West Virginia – When Oscar Tshiebwe left the West Virginia Mountaineers back in December, many thought that his departure would mean the end to West Virginia’s chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in March.

However, the Mountaineers have actually become a better, more versatile team without him.  While the team has only gone 6-4 in the past ten games, they have faced a brutal schedule with six of the ten games being against Top 25 teams.

Tshiebwe was a talented defender and rebounder, but he was a major liability offensively.  As pointed out moments ago by ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, the Mountaineers are now a top ten team in the nation in offensive efficiency.

With Tshiebwe, West Virginia shot 32.1% from three point range.  Since he’s left, the Mountaineers are shooting 40.3%.

This is largely due to better spacing with only one big man in the lineup at a time.  Tshiebwe and Culver playing together was a disaster.  Culver sans Tshiebwe is far more productive and has become a real force in the paint in the past ten games.

While Fraschilla went on to say that the Mountaineers are “not necessarily a better team but rather a different team”, it’s clear that the current players are more motivated now and all of the players on the team have bought in to what the coaches expect from them.

West Virginia with Oscar Tshiebwe was a team that was not going to make any noise in the NCAA Tournament.  Now, the Mountaineers are versatile and primed to make a deep run in March.

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