Tip-Off: 6:00 pm est
The 11th ranked West Virginia basketball team opens their season in Ramstein-Miesenback, Germany on the Ramstein Air Force Base in the Armed Forces Classic against the #25 Texas A&M Aggies. This will be the third meeting between the two programs. The Mountaineers are 2-0 all-time against the Aggies, with their most recent win coming in Morgantown last year in the Big XII/SEC Challenge 81-77.
West Virginia will be without forward Esa Ahmad and Texas A&M will be without ESPN pre-season All-American Robert Williams and freshman guard JJ Caldwell.
Including Esa Ahmad, West Virginia must replace 46.8 points per game, 21.6 rebounds per game and 185 steals. That’s over half over the offense (81.5), rebounds (37.4) and just under half of the team steals (371).
For Texas A&M, they return three of their top scorers – Center Tyler Davis (14.1), Guard Admon Guilder (13.7) and Forward DJ Hogg (12.0) – from a 16-15 team a year ago.
The Aggies are going to feed their big men inside in centers Tyler Davis (6’10” 266-lbs) and Tonny Troch-Morelos (6’10” 229-lbs). They are a match-up nightmare for an undersized front line for the Mountaineers.
Where West Virginia will have the advantage is turnovers. In the Mountaineers win last year in Morgantown, the Aggies turned the ball over 23 times and averaged 14.2 turnovers per game a season ago.
There is no doubt what Senior guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles bring to the table, but the Mountaineers have a lot of young talent entering the season and they are still trying to figure out how all these new pieces will fit together.
First year player Wesley Harris made the start in place for the Suspended Esa Ahmad in the exhibition against Albany on October 28th. His length is a perfect fit at the top of the press along with Sophomore Lamont West.
Teddy Allen could be the difference maker in the game with his aggressive nature to the rim. He will need to make his free throws to help West Virginia secure the win.
With the inside presence for the Aggies, Sagaba Konate will be vital for the Mountaineers. He will need to stay out of foul trouble since the Mountaineers are so thin on the front line.
First games of the year are hard to predict, especially since both teams have so many young players having to step up early in the season and it will be interesting to see how West Virginia runs their press against a talented Aggies team.
If Carter and Miles can shut down the Aggie guards and deny easy entry to the post, West Virginia should win this game with ease. I have West Virginia winning their opener, but it’s going to be a close game.
Mountaineers win 72-66.