Cover Photo: WVU Athletics
Morgantown, West Virginia – Tough. Seasoned. Battled-scarred. The West Virginia Mountaineers have seen it all and competed against the very best that college basketball has to offer this season, and although they have acquired an abundance of bumps and bruises all the way, they are peaking at precisely the right time.
Make no mistake about it, no one will want to play West Virginia in March. Bob Huggins’ teams are always tough, but this particular team is experienced, tough-minded and has the formula for success in the NCAA Tournament.
Despite its ho-hum 17-13 record, West Virginia has played virtually every game – except for a 34 point blowout loss at Texas – extremely closely and was competitive in the strongest, most challenging conference in college basketball.
And this is precisely why West Virginia is #23 in the current NET Rankings. Against Quad 2, 3 and 4 teams this season, the Mountaineers are 12-1. In addition, West Virginia pounded Pitt in Pittsburgh, 81-56, and had impressive wins over TCU, Auburn, and most recently at Iowa State.
Following West Virginia’s near-upset victory at Kansas, Jayhawks’ head coach Bill Self summed up West Virginia’s season perfectly: “Well, you guys saw them play today. Does that look like an NCAA tournament team to you? The answer is an emphatic yes. I mean, they’re good and the league is really hard. The league is really hard and they’re really good.”
With 17 overall wins and 6 wins in the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia is now almost certainly in the NCAA Tournament, regardless of the results of its season finale home game against Kansas State and its performance in the Big 12 Championships. Every team starts over with zero wins and zero losses during March Madness, and West Virginia’s 13 hard losses will no longer matter. Those 13 losses have taught the Mountaineers a lot and will only benefit the team moving forward. West Virginia is prepared and hungry to make some major noise in March.