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Bock: Quick Initial Thoughts on WVU’s Full Schedule Release



Josiah Harris
Kelsie LeRose / WVSN

WVU’s full schedule has been released for the 2023-24 season thanks to the Big 12 providing everyone with the conference slate on Tuesday. West Virginia is entering year one with Josh Eilert, and it may be the only year given to the interim head coach. WVU AD Wren Baker has stated multiple times that there’s no win total benchmark for Eilert and his staff but he will be evaluated in the spring at the end of his contract.

WVU’s schedule features four Power-6 opponents during the non-conference and a new-look Big 12 schedule. Here are my quick initial thoughts on the schedule and how well West Virginia can manage it.

Big 12 Gauntlet Early-On, Then Gets Easier

For the past few years, the Big 12 has been consistently the best conference in college basketball. This past NCAA Tournament was the first year since 2017 that didn’t feature a Final Four team from the Big 12. Every team in that span, yes even Kansas, has experienced the struggles of the Big 12 gauntlet. Well, good and bad news for West Virginia is that the hardest part of their conference schedule comes right away.

WVU’s first five Big 12 games:

@ Houston / Jan. 6 / 2 p.m.

vs. Kansas State / Jan. 9 / 7 p.m.

vs. Texas / Jan. 13 / 6 p.m.

@ Oklahoma / Jan. 17 / 8 p.m.

vs. Kansas / Jan. 20 / 4 p.m.

West Virginia will play in Houston’s inaugural Big 12 game at the Fertitta Center. Houston will be a preseason top-15 team and look to continue the momentum that Kelvin Sampson has created over the past near decade. After that, WVU goes back home to host Kansas State and Texas, who will most likely be ranked this season. The Mountaineers defeated K-State on senior day last year but fell to Texas. West Virginia then goes to Norman, Ok. for the last time to take on the Sooners before hosting national champion contenders in Kansas.This stretch screams the usual Big 12 gauntlet schedule that we’ve seen over the years. The road games won’t be easy and the home games feature teams that have the talent to win on the road. Luckily for WVU, the schedule gets easier after that.

No Phog, No Problems

With 14 teams now in the Big 12, the conference shifts away from the double round-robin, which was awesome. West Virginia received five teams to play home-and-away and the rest were figured out to create an 18-game schedule. WVU will avoid Allen Fieldhouse, the home of Kansas this season.

West Virginia is an all-time 0-11 at the Phog. This past season was the closest loss as the Mountaineers lost by two. I’m sure Eilert and his staff are thrilled to not return to Lawrence during the 2023-24 season.

Schedule Overall Has Balance

As Eilert and his staff need to win games this season, they’ve set up a favorable non-conference schedule and have been given a more favorable Big 12 slate. The non-conference schedule features Ohio State, St. John’s, Pitt, UMass and the Fort Myers Tip-Off Invitational (SMU and Virginia OR Wisconsin). Out of this group, just Pitt and Virginia made the NCAA Tournament but expect Ohio State and St. John’s to improve off of last season. WVU shouldn’t have many issues during non-conference play, which can help set them up for the Big 12.

The schedule overall has a good balance of solid teams but not many elite teams outside of Kansas and Houston. West Virginia most likely won’t have 20 quad-1 games this season.

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