MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – With the WVU men’s basketball team in Charleston, South Carolina for the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic this weekend, head coach Bob Huggins wants the trip to prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
“I think to a large degree you end up toughing it out in these tournaments. We’re going to play a couple of days, have a day off and then play another game,” Huggins said on Wednesday. “I think it’s good preparation for the NCAA Tournament.”
In the traditional NCAA Tournament schedule, you play every other day, each weekend, in different cities. Each weekend of March Madness is a mini tournament.
The field for the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic includes Saint Bonaventure, Boise State, Clemson and Temple on one side, with Elon, Ole Miss and Marquette on West Virginia’s side.
Saint Bonaventure is ranked No. 22 in the country, as the favorites to win the Atlantic-10. The Bonnies, along with Clemson and WVU, are the three schools in the field that appeared in the NCAA Tournament this past March. Boise State and Ole Miss were both in the NIT in 2020-21.
Marquette is trying to turn their program in the right direction behind former Texas coach Shaka Smart. The Golden Eagles defeated No. 10 Illinois on Monday night.
There’s enough quality teams in this tournament that the Mountaineers can get something out of this weekend.
With the amount of new players on this year’s West Virignia team, Huggins wants the three games in four days. The 40-year head coach wants to give the new guys the experience in playing in these mid-season tournaments.
“We’ve got so many new guys, so many guys that haven’t played in tournament settings,” Huggins said.
West Virginia has won their previous two mid-season tournaments, the Cancun Challenge in 2019, and the Bad Boys Mowers Crossover Classic in 2020.
For the players, they are excited to be in South Carolina and not in South Dakota this year.
“We went from the Bahamas to South Dakota, that hurt the soul,” WVU forward Jalen Bridges said.
Now, West Virginia can enjoy the beach, while preparing to participate in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic. WVU will tip-off with Elon on Thursday night, starting at 9 p.m., on ESPN2.