The NCAA Tournament is Not a Given for the Mountaineers

As West Virginia sat at 14-2 following an 81-43 blowout win against the TCU Horned Frogs at the Coliseum, it was impossible to think that the Mountaineers could possibly miss the NCAA Tournament.  42 days and 12 games later, West Virginia is now 19-9 and 7-8 in the Big 12 Conference.

In the process, the Mountaineers have gone from a solid #2 in the NCAA Tournament to a 5, 6 or 7 seed currently.  West Virginia will likely be favored to win two of the final three games in the regular season, each game is also a potential loss.  If the Mountaineers lose the final three games, they will finish 19-12 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.  At that point, the team would be firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and a poor seed in the Big 12 Tournament.

If the Mountaineers play a tough opponent in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament (say, Texas Tech or Baylor) and lose, this would them at 19-13 overall with six consecutive losses.  In this worst-case scenario, West Virginia would almost certainly be on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament and would most likely be resigned to playing in the NIT.

While this scenario is certainly possible, it’s unlikely that the Mountaineers will have such a disastrous collapse to close the season.  However, if Head Coach Bob Huggins has completely lost his players and they are no longer interested in listening to him, this team could absolutely find themselves in the NIT, which would be a tremendous disappointment for a team with such outstanding promise at the beginning of the season.