To begin, let’s really let it soak in and appreciate the fact that the West Virginia Mountaineers went from 15-21 overall and 4-14 in the Big 12 Conference last season to 21-10 overall and 9-9 in Big 12 play this year. That’s a major turnaround and Bob Huggins and staff should be commended for going out and getting the players they needed and for fixing what needed to be fixed. Outstanding work.
The Mountaineers are now right where they need to be to make major noise in the Big 12 Tournament. Although West Virginia is the 6th seed in the tournament, their path to the championship actually shapes up quite nicely.
West Virginia opens up against the 3rd seed Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday night. The Sooners swept the Mountaineers this season, winning in Norman 69-59 back in early February and then at home against a then-struggling West Virginia team in Morgantown 73-62 on February 29th. With this said, it’s really, really difficult to beat a team three times in a row in college basketball and West Virginia is frankly a more talented, deeper team than Oklahoma and will likely be favored. This is a far different West Virginia than it was only a few short weeks ago and the Mountaineers will should roll the Sooners on a neutral court.
If/when the Mountaineers get by Oklahoma, they will play the winner of the TCU/Kansas State versus Baylor game on Friday night at 8:00. TCU and Kansas State have both played well at times down the stretch and are certainly capable of upsetting a Baylor team that has looked very beatable lately. If Baylor advances, West Virginia proved this weekend that they can beat them and the Mountaineers will likely move on to the Big 12 Championship, regardless of their opponent.
On the other end of the Big 12 draw, Kansas, Texas and Texas Tech are all capable of making it to the championship round. Kansas has been the most impressive team in the country all season long, but Texas is one of the hottest team in the Big 12, winning five of their last six games. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has lost four games in the row. Expect a Texas versus Kansas matchup for a trip to the championship round.
Whether the Mountaineers play Texas, Kansas or any other team in the Big 12 Championship, they are peaking at just the right time and are capable of beating any team anywhere right now. With a win, three consecutive wins and a Big 12 Championship will bring West Virginia to a 3 or 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and in perfect position to do some real damage where it really matters.
Although the Mountaineers struggled in February, winning in March is what matters and Bob Huggins has his team primed and ready for a real run when it really counts.