What Will It Take For WVU To Go Dancing?
By Jeff Vickers
With an 18-5 record, 6-4 in conference, the Mountaineers have come to a crucial point in their basketball season. Coming off of 2 double digit conference losses, WVU enters Wednesday night’s game against against Kansas State with the realization that their dreams of dancing might be slipping away. With 8 games left in the season the Mountaineers will have to right the ship quickly in order to stay afloat in the eyes in the selection committee.
1st up, Kansas State. The Wildcats are currently 12-12 on the season, and 5-6 in conference play, outside of the Big 12 conference a 12-12 opponent would be considered a give-me game. Kansas State has lost 4 games in a row, a streak started by West Virginia, when the Mountaineers beat the Wildcats on their court 65-59 on January 27th.
Next is a Valentines Day trip to Ames, Iowa to take on Iowa State. The Cyclones are currently ranked #9 in the country, but that will change since they just lost to Oklahoma. In true home games this season, the Cyclones are 13-0. Iowa State snuck out of Morgantown with a 74-72 win against the Mountaineers back on January 10th.
Next Monday the Mountaineers will host #8 Kansas. Kansas is currently 19-4, and leading the Big 12 conference with an 8-2 record. WVU has yet to face Kansas this season, but the Jayhawks, who are coming off a defeat to Oklahoma State, will have games at Texas Tech and at home against Baylor before traveling to Morgantown. The Mountaineers will travel to Kansas for the next to last game of the regular season on March 3rd.
After Kansas, it is on to the other team the Mountaineers have yet to face this season, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Mountaineers will travel to Oklahoma State on February 21st, and the Cowboys will come to Morgantown, to close out the regular season on March 7th. Currently the Cowboys are 5th in the conference with a 7-5 record, 17-7 overall.
The other 2 games will be rematches with the 2 teams that have blown out the Mountaineers this season. February 24th the 15-8 Texas Longhorns come to Morgantown, and on February 28th the Mountaineers will travel to Baylor.
As it stands right now, WVU would be playing Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. With the winner of that game going on to face the winner of Kansas vs. 8/9 seed game winner. So the road to the NCAA tournament is about as smooth as the street of Morgantown in the winter time. In my estimation, the Mountaineers would need to win at least 20 games for a legitimate shot at the NCAA tournament, that is not including a deep run into the NCAA tournament. However, the selection committee has become more hesitant on selecting teams that do not have a winning conference record, so just to be on the safe side, the Mountaineers will need to go at least 3-5 to close out the regular season. Who will those wins come against? Your guess is as good as mine!