Morgantown, West Virginia – The West Virginia Mountaineers were recently blessed with perhaps the best possible remaining schedule in their regular season.
Not only did the Big 12 Conference cancel West Virginia’s game at Baylor previously scheduled for last Thursday, they also added three home games to close out the season. While the WVU Coliseum will not give the Mountaineers the typical home court advantage, it’s still difficult to win on the road in one of the toughest conferences in the nation.
Now that the Mountaineers have taken care of business against basement-dweller Kansas State (7-19, 3-14) yesterday, they have the highly-anticipated matchup with the #2 Baylor Bears next on Tuesday to look forward to.
To be clear, the Baylor Bears do not deserve to be ranked #2 in the nation. They have been extremely impressive this season, but they’ve only played two games in three weeks.
One game was against the worst team in the Big 12, Iowa State, a game they only won by five points (77-72) at home, and the other was a 71-58 loss last night at Kansas, their first defeat of the season.
While they may have been the second best team in the nation at one point, they are not right now.
Their lack of practice and real game action is evident, and they have looked like they have been “playing in quicksand” in the last two games.
According to the Ken Pom Rankings, the Mountaineers are predicted to finish the season 2-1 with their only loss against Baylor. Ken Pom gives West Virginia an 89% chance to beat TCU, a 69% chance to beat Oklahoma State and only a 35% chance to beat Baylor. The predicted score for the Baylor West Virginia game is 78-74 in favor of the Bears.
But remember, Ken Pom is based only on statistics this season and does not account for the tremendously long layoff for Baylor. Baylor is not the Baylor that ripped through their opponents through the first 17 games of the season. They are a shell of their former selves.
With that said, West Virginia has gained an incredible amount of confidence over the past several weeks and now look like a team that can beat any team on any given day. The Mountaineers are in perfect position to sweep the final three games of the regular season and win the Big 12 Tournament Championship from March 10-13th in Kansas City.
And it all starts with Baylor on Tuesday. Look for West Virginia to send Baylor back home to Waco with back to back losses and the Mountaineers one step closer to the Big 12 Championship.