The Mountaineers are set to host the #3 Kansas Jayhawks tomorrow night with their postseason hopes hanging by a thread.
At 9-10, West Virginia has had a forgettable season, highlighted by close losses to lesser opponents and a few blow-out losses to highly ranked teams. None of the West Virginia victories this season are what the NCAA tournament committee would consider “quality victories,” giving the Mountaineers an even stiffer slope to climb to make the postseason.
WVU’s schedule down the stretch is going to be more difficult than it has been to this point. The Mountaineers will have to face #3 Kansas twice and #11 Kansas State once more as well as 5 games against other Big XII teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Iowa State) that are projected to make the NCAA tournament.
West Virginia will need to win at least 9 of the remaining 12 regular season games as well as pick up a couple wins in the Big XII tournament to match last season’s 19-14 mark that was just good enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Looking at the field for the NCAA tournament so far, 19-14 is probably not going to be enough to get anyone into the big dance without a slew of quality wins.
The Mountaineers get an opportunity for a monster of a quality win tomorrow night against the Jayhawks. Kansas, with a 18-1 record has not lost since November 13, a narrow 3 point loss to Michigan State. Since that game, Kansas has won all of there games, most by convincing margins.
But Kansas has shown vulnerability lately, eeking out narrow victories in recent weeks against Iowa State and Texas. The Jayhawks are coming off a victory against NCAA tournament projected Oklahoma and are set to face fellow post season favorite Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Being sandwiched between a pair of tough opponents, WVU is looking to jump start their season with a trap game victory. But history is not on the Mountaineers side. WVU has lost their last 8 games against ranked teams. The last win over a ranked opponent came on January 7 of last year when WVU took down #9 Georgetown in Morgantown.
Against the #3 team in the polls, West Virginia is 2-11, 0-5 in games played in Morgantown.
Against teams ranked in the top 5 of the polls, the Mountaineers are 14-45 all time, 4-17 at home. Thos four victories were against #5 George Washington (Feb 19, 1955), #5 Villanova (Jan 6, 1962), #1 UNLV (Feb 27, 1983), and #2 UCLA (Feb 10, 2007).
The Mountaineers get an opportunity to buck history tomorrow night against Kansas and they will need to buck the trend to keep their NCAA tournament (or more realistically, NIT) hopes alive.