Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Marshall Hurting WVU’s NCAA Tournament Seed?

As the regular season comes to an end WVU currently sits at #2 in the Big 12 with games remaining that could potentially give them a share of the Big 12 regular season title. There is also a slim chance of an outright title. At 22-6 the Mountaineers are guaranteed to hear their name called on Selection Sunday. However, most projections, including USA Today, still have the Mountaineers as a 6 seed. The question is why?

Although the Mountaineers sit at 10-5 in arguably the toughest basketball conference in the nation their RPI is still 21. The problem WVU is facing now is not something they can fix, at least not this season. WVU currently as a non-conference strength of schedule of 227. It should be noted that their non-conference RPI is 9. Unfortunately there are teams they have played that have not helped the cause in the least and I think everyone knows where I am going with this.

After the Marshall game WVU coach Bob Huggins expressed his feelings regarding the yearly series with Marshall. He stated that it was not beneficial to play them and it looks as though he was correct. Marshall currently boasts an RPI of 299, the worst team WVU has played this season. While many felt Huggins rant was solely in response to Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni it is now obvious his statements regarding the series are valid no matter the reasoning.

WVU still has the opportunity to improve their seeding moving forward with games against Baylor, Kansas, and Oklahoma St remaining before the Big 12 Tournament. However, some early non-conference games have hurt the Mountaineers. Don’t get me wrong, the Wofford and NC State wins are big resume builders as NC State will be a NCAA tournament team and Wofford is currently 21-6 and favored to get the automatic bid by winning the Southern Conference. Below is a list of games WVU has played this season and the current RPI of those non-conference opponents.

Marshall (W 69-66) RPI 299

Northern Kentucky (W 67-42) RPI 271

College of Charleston (W 86-57) RPI 296

Monmouth (W 64-54) RPI 187

Looking at the overall body of work WVU has a very impressive resume beating 5 teams who currently are projected to make the NCAA tournament. However, it is now clear that Coach Huggins had a valid point regarding the Mountaineers non-conference schedule. It should be noted that at the time of this article WVU had not signed the contract to play Marshall in the 2015-2016 season. WVU is contracted to play a game in Charleston but the contract does not specify the opponent.



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