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Morgantown, West Virginia – Although the West Virginia Mountaineers are 13-2 through the first fifteen games of the 2021-2022 season, they are not yet ranked and have not garnered the national respect that most teams with their records would have.

Having said that, West Virginia has a massive opportunity to earn the respect of the nation over their next three games, which is undoubtedly the most challenging stretch of games that they will face all year.

The Mountaineers begin with a road game at perhaps the most difficult arena in college basketball to win in, Allen Fieldhouse (The Phog) in Lawrence, Kansas against the 9th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Kansas, 13-2 to start the season, was upset at home early in the season against Dayton and lost at #19 Texas Tech on January 8th, but the Jayhawks are once again one of the top teams in the country and they are a remarkable 264-14 under Bill Self at Allen Fieldhouse.

Following the Kansas game, the Mountaineers return to Morgantown to play the #1 ranked team in the nation, the 15-1 Baylor Bears. Baylor was upset at home on Tuesday, January 11 by Texas Tech. However, other than that sole loss, they have been outstanding, beating #10 Michigan State, #14 Villanova and #15 Iowa State this season.

West Virginia will then play perhaps their toughest game during this stretch next, when they go on the road to Lubbock, Texas to play the red-hot Texas Tech Red Raiders, who have beaten both Kansas and Baylor in back to back games.  Texas Tech is 10-0 at home and although they are currently ranked #19 in the nation, they are likely the Big 12 Conference’s toughest team to beat right now.

While West Virginia has enjoyed a relatively undemanding schedule to start the season, the path to the NCAA Tournament gets much more formidable in the coming weeks. The Mountaineers will either step up and prove that they are a much better team than most experts think they are, or they will crumble under the heat of the incredibly difficult schedule that awaits them.

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