As the clock ticks before the return of March Madness, the No. 3 seed West Virginia Mountaineers will play the No. 14 seed Morehead State Eagles in the round of 64 on Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Following the Selection Sunday show that revealed the matchup between the Mountaineers (18-9, 11-6 Big 12) and Eagles (23-7, 17-3 OVC), WVU head coach Bob Huggins wasn’t too familiar with MSU and watched four-to-five of their games that night. On Wednesday afternoon, Huggins gave his analysis of Morehead State.
“They [Morehead State] have a lot of guys that can make shots. They really do a good job of spreading the ball,” Huggins said. “The post guy [Johni Broome] is very, very good, which it’s hard to get help there whenever you surround them with because they’re very capable of making shots. They’re all capable of having big nights.”
That post guy Huggins is talking about happens to be their best player. Johni Broome is a 6-foot-10 freshman who has averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 rebounds in 29 games played this season. Broome is coming off a career night against Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference Championship, where the big man recorded 27 points—which is a career-high. Broome shot 12-of-19 from the field and picked up 12 rebounds in the win. Broome versus Derek Culver will be a great matchup set for Friday night.
Broome is supported by junior guards DeVon Cooper and Skyelar Potter. Cooper averages 12.2 points, while Potter averages 11.7. Both guards can rebound very well for their size, as the combo pulls down around 10 rebounds a game.
As a team, Morehead State has won 23 games this season, while winning the Ohio Valley Conference as the No. 2 seed in their conference tournament. They’ve played notable teams in Ohio State, Richmond, Kentucky and Clemson, losing all four matchups. Their closest loss out of those games was to Clemson, losing by 15 on the road.
The difference between WVU and MSU is that the Eagles are on a seven-game winning streak, while the Mountaineers have zero momentum, losing three out of their last four games. Context does need to be included as West Virginia does play in the Big 12 and Morehead State plays in the Ohio Valley. What did Huggins have to say in response to the level of competition?
“The first thing that comes to my mind is they (Morehead State) didn’t play in the Big 12,” Huggins said. “There is a difference when you look at that bracket and look at the respect that our league got.”
On the WVU side, it seems as everything is back to square one for the team. Culver is back and healthy; if you remember, the junior forward needed an IV at halftime to finish the quarterfinals round against Oklahoma State last week.
This week for all 68 teams has been stressful as they make the trip to Indiana. WVU arrived in Indianapolis on Monday and immediately starting the testing and isolating process until Tuesday night where the team practiced for the first time. For about a 24-to-36 hour period, the players need to find something to do to occupy their time. While teammates were playing video games, Miles McBride was reading John Thompson’s book.
Now as we creep closer to game time, the Mountaineers are fully focused on basketball now and are looking to make a deep run in the upcoming weeks. It’ll all start on Friday, as the Mountaineers and Eagles will tip-off at Lucas Oil Stadium to cap off the first night of the round of 64. The game is set to start at approximately 9:50 p.m. and will be televised on truTV.
(Top Photo: Dale Sparks)