While it would take an epic collapse for the West Virginia Mountaineers to fall out of the NCAA Tournament, it’s certainly a possibility if the recent trend of losing continues. The Mountaineers have six games remaining – three at home and three on the road – and they will likely be favored in five of the last six games.
West Virginia should win its next game at home against a bad Oklahoma State team, then next Saturday on the road at TCU. The Mountaineers will then play at Texas, at home against Oklahoma and then on the road at Iowa State. All of these games are not just winnable but rather likely wins. West Virginia will then close its season at home against the #1 ranked Baylor Bears. It’s entirely possible that the Mountaineers finish the season 6-0, which would leave them 23-7 overall and 12-6 in the Big 12.
It’s also possible that West Virginia could lose four of these final six games and end the season with a 20-11 overall record and 8-10 in the Big 12, which would put them on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. This, of course, is a worst-case scenario for the Mountaineers, but the very thought of possibly not making the NCAA Tournament after such an impressive start to the season would be extraordinarily disappointing.
The NIT is not an option for these young Mountaineers. There is a very good chance that Oscar Tshiebwe will decide to enter the NBA Draft after his Freshman season. Although he is not yet fully NBA-ready, he has a knack for rebounding unlike anyone else in college basketball, his body is physically very mature and a jump to the NBA would not be a terrible thing for him to consider. Losing Tshiebwe, in addition to Jermaine Haley and Chase Harler (and Logan Routt), would make things very challenging for West Virginia next season.
The future is now for the Mountaineers. Bob Huggins will re-load with outstanding talent joining the team next season (four star Isaiah Cottrell and three stars Kedrian Johnson and Taj Thweatt), but his time as a Head Coach is winding down and this year’s team gives him as good of a chance of winning a National Championship as he’s going to have for the remainder of his career.
While many say that this is a young team and that we must remain patient, patience is not something that Bob Huggins or these players can afford to have.