The West Virginia basketball program is known for upsets, especially inside the coliseum. Since 1982 (my lifetime) they have beat a ranked opponent, while unranked, 49 times. 16 of those wins were against top 10 teams.
It’s when the Mountaineers have been ranked that the team struggles, and may find themselves on the receiving end of upsets.
In January 2005, West Virginia receives their first top 25 ranking (21) in almost seven years, after winning back to back games against ranked opponents (20th ranked George Washington, at 17th ranked NC State) just to make a trip to Villanova and get blown out 84-46. The Mountaineers then lost six out of their next seven games.
The following year, the Mountaineers reached the top 10 for the first time in nearly 23 years, just to lose to Marshall in the Capital Classic, and go 5-5 in the final 10 games of the season.
The Final Four season, West Virginia only lost six games.
They came into the season ranked in the top 10. WVU lost to the 11th ranked team and to two unranked teams, both on the road (UCONN, Notre Dame). No doubt the best run West Virginia had since the Jerry West days.
In January of 2016, the Mountaineers upset the number one ranked Kansas Jayhawks at home and lost by two in Norman to the second ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Those games propelled WVU to be ranked sixth in the country. Their first top 10 ranking in six years! West Virginia then came home and lost to an unranked Texas team. Eventually, WVU got knocked out of the top 10 by getting beat down at Florida.
West Virginia finished 2016 in the top 10. The Mountaineers were slighted by receiving a three seed in the NCAA Tournament which got them knocked out by Stephen F. Austin in the first round.
Last season, they make their way to being ranked seventh after winning their first game of the two-game road trip to start the Big XII Conference in Stillwater, only to lose the second game in Lubbock.
West Virginia would make their way back to seventh in the AP poll, just two weeks later to lose at home to a bad Oklahoma team. Then again on the road at Kansas State.
This moves us to the Mountaineers current situation. They just received their highest ranking in almost 60 years, receiving first place votes, and grabbing the number two spot in the country, after a win over seventh ranked Oklahoma.
Baylor came into Morgantown, in the Mountaineers first game with the number two ranking. This would prove to be a big test for West Virginia. Baylor wasn’t ranked, but they haven’t had much success against the Bears. The Mountaineers were only 4-8 against them all-time, and they haven’t had a lot of success when receiving love from the media.
We have seen, West Virginia, time and time again have an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time, just to see them squander it away.
It looked like history was going to repeat itself Tuesday night inside the Coliseum. West Virginia could not get any shots to fall. A lot of credit must go to Baylor head coach Scott Drew for continuing to switch defenses, not allowing the Mountaineers to get any rhythm on offense.
That was a game West Virginia typically loses. This time they found a way to win by shear determination.
I have brought up a lot of bad memories for Mountaineer basketball fans to show the importance of a win against a Baylor team that didn’t have a lot of hype around it.
This is the first time since the Final Four season WVU has maintained a ranking like this.
I’m not comparing this team to the Final Four run, it’s too early, and this team plays a different style. However, they can certainly still accomplish some of the things that 2009-2010 did.
West Virginia has another opportunity to make a name for themselves and win a road game against a top 10 team while being ranked in the top 10 in almost eight years. That comes on the road this Saturday against number eight Texas Tech.
This team so far, has something special brewing and you can not doubt the leadership of this team.
After a tough game against Baylor, Senior guards Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles Jr, along with Sophomore Beetle Bolden were putting up shots after the game inside the Coliseum after the game.
This very well could be a special year for West Virginia.