Bock: Pressure Back on West Virginia Basketball
West Virginia, Stress Virginia. It doesn’t matter. WVU’s season so far has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. After dropping both road games to Texas and Baylor, pressure is fully back on the Mountaineers.
Every time West Virginia looks as if they’ll go on a run, they reel you back in with a couple of losses. The fans are cautious, some very worried about WVU’s NCAA Tournament hopes. I’m not worried, just yet.
West Virginia has to win their next two games as they host Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Both of those games are very winnable, especially for how WVU has played at home recently. Unfortunately for WVU, both of those teams have caught fire finally. Texas Tech will enter Morgantown this weekend with back-to-back wins over Kansas State and Texas. The once 1-win Big 12 team has found their identity in the meantime.
Oklahoma State is surprisingly 7-6 in conference but will be without starting guard Avery Anderson for the remainder of the season.
This is why I said the Iowa State game was so important to win. This team hasn’t proven to be able to win consistently on the road. Luckily, the Mountaineers took care of business at home last Wednesday against the Cyclones.
I still think 18 wins is the magic number for West Virginia to make the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t matter how they do it. As long as they have 18 wins by Selection Sunday, they should be fine.
Bock: 18 Wins is the Magic Number for West Virginia Basketball
The next few weeks will be very crucial to how the outsiders view West Virginia’s program. Another missed tournament with Bob Huggins would make one appearance since 2018. Huggins has said for the past year that he would fix last season’s problem and would not let that happen again.
When West Virginia started out Big 12 play 0-5, Huggins expressed his frustrations with fixing the problem.
“It’s frustrating, man. I sat here and said we’ll fix it. I thought we were on that road of fixing it. Obviously we are not,” Huggins said. “It’s frustrating. I’m not the kind of person that wants to let people down. I feel like I let the great fans of this team down.”
Since Huggins’ comment, his team is 4-3 in their last seven games. It’s not as bad as last year but the problem isn’t fully fixed yet.
If WVU can get their way into the NCAA Tournament, I see this season as a success. It’s about making progress from last year. The main complaint was how Huggins couldn’t adapt to the new age of the transfer portal. Huggins and his staff grouped together transfer portal guys with the usual Junior College additions and the five that returned from the previous team. I understand why fans wouldn’t see it the same way though. At the same time, I think people forget how bad last season was.
West Virginia has five regular season games and at least one Big 12 Conference tournament game left to prove to the NCAA Tournament committee that they’re worthy of playing in March Madness. 18 wins is the goal; three more wins to go.
For now, the pressure is back on West Virginia basketball to take care of business.