Morgantown, West Virginia – Today is the big day! Selection Sunday is today, March 14th and the selection show starts at 6:00PM on CBS.
This year’s NCAA Tournament is very different because all of the games will be played in Indiana and teams will be in a “bubble” during their entire stay in the tournament.
The West Virginia Mountaineers, 18-9 overall and 11-6 in the Big 12 Conference, are predicted to be anywhere from a 3 seed to a 5 seed in the tournament. According to Joe Lunardi, the Mountaineers are currently a 4 seed and the 13th ranked team overall team.
Kansas is ranked ahead of West Virginia, but they had a COVID case on the team and had to withdraw from the Big 12 Tournament. Right now, they are questionable for the NCAA Tournament. If they are unable to play, West Virginia will likely slide into their spot as a 3 seed.
Here are the teams the Mountaineers could see in the opening round of the tournament starting next Thursday:
Winners of the Ohio Valley Tournament, the Eagles would be an ideal matchup for West Virginia. College Basketball Analyst Andy Katz has Morehead State versus West Virginia in his projected bracket with the Mountaineers as a 3 seed and Morehead State as a 14 seed.
The Eagles, 23-7 overall and 17-3 in conference play, had a strong season in the Ohio Valley Conference and according to Busting Brackets, “Morehead State won’t overwhelm you with one specific strength – but they don’t have any real weaknesses, either. They keep it simple. Defensively, they don’t force turnovers but they’ll make you take bad shots. Offensively, they pass well and hit their shots. They’ll outrebound you on both ends. And every player knows his role.”
While they outrebounded teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, they wouldn’t do the same against the Mountaineers. Of all the potential first round opponents, Morehead State would be a great team for West Virginia to start the tournament against.
Liberty won the Atlantic Sun Tournament and dominated the conference, finishing 23-5 overall and 11-2 in conference play. According to their head coach, Ritchie McCay, they are a group of players that puts the team before personal stats and accomplishments.
“They’ve had this pursuit about them where they were just going to be part of something bigger than themselves”, McCay said. “We were going to lay aside statistics and personal or individual goals — still have them, but not put them before the team and its success.”
While Liberty, currently projected as a 13 seed, could provide some problems for West Virginia, ultimately the Mountaineers are far more talented and should be able to handle the Flames easily if they meet in the first round.
While Duke finished with a 13-9 overall record and went 9-9 in the ACC, there is a lot of smoke around the possibility of the Blue Devils still sneaking into the NCAA Tournament if they are available. Duke had to withdraw from the ACC Tournament due to a COVID case, but they could potentially be ready by next week.
With that said, Coach K is one of the best coaches in the history of basketball, and Duke is very talented. Before they withdrew from the ACC Tournament, they appeared to be peaking at just the right time. This is not a team that anyone wants to see in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Winthrop was nearly perfect in the Big South Conference this year, finishing 23-1 overall and 17-1 in the conference, and then went on to win the Big South Conference Championship.
The Eagles are a team that could pull the upset on virtually any team that they face in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They rebound well, have multiple scorers and have the 8th highest scoring margin in college basketball this season.
Currently projected as a 12 or 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Mountaineers could draw this team in the first round. If they do, it will be an absolute battle for West Virginia to get past them and into the round of 32.
Ohio surprisingly won the MAC Championship, defeating Buffalo in the finals. The Bobcats, 16-7, were a bit up and down throughout the season, but they are extremely talented and capable of upsetting anyone in the first round.
Georgetown, 13-12, not only won the Big East Tournament, they dominated a really good Creighton team, 73-48 in the championship. Patrick Ewing’s team is absolutely peaking heading into the NCAA Tournament and have the size and athleticism to cause problems for any opponent they face.
West Virginia defeated Georgetown 80-71 on the road in early December, but this is a very different Hoyas team now than they were at the start of the season. Still, a first round rematch against Georgetown would be a best possible scenario for the Mountaineers.
Other teams West Virginia could meet in the 1st round
Colgate 13-1 overall, 11-1 in the Patriot League. Plays Loyola in the Patriot League Championship today.
Oregon State 17-12 overall, 10-10 in the Pac 12 Conference, champions of the Pac 12 Conference Championship.
Eastern Washington 16-7 overall, 12-3 in the Big Sky Conference, winners of the Big Sky Tournament Championship