Column: West Virginia can make a run in the NCAA Tournament


March madness is here again. It’s every college basketball fan’s favorite time. It’s a time where all 64 teams are 0-0 and it brings out every teams best.

This year a team is trying to make history by completing a perfect season while other teams are attempting to slip on the glass slipper and become a Cinderella team.

West Virginia, on the other hand, is just trying to prove people wrong.

The Mountaineers come into the NCAA tournament after less-than-stellar finish to their season. Due to injuries and poor offensive performances, West Virginia dropped their last three out of four games and had an early exit from the Big 12 conference tournament.

Even with previously injured seniors Juwan Staten (knee) and Gary Browne (ankle) back in the lineup some experts say West Virginia has no shot of going the distance or even making it out of the first round against No. 12 seed Buffalo.

It seems that the odds are stacked against the Mountaineers, but don’t count them out just yet.

Here is why West Virginia can create problems for other teams and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.

This is a healthy West Virginia team. It feels to good to say that. The Mountaineers are back to full strength after Staten and Browne haven’t seen action in quote sometime.

With the two key seniors being out of the lineup, head coach Bob Huggins has had to rely on his young, inexperienced bench to try to compete with tough Big 12 competition. Staten and Browne add the necessary leadership and experience this team needs in order to make a run.

Feb 24, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bob Huggins reacts from the bench during the first half against the Texas Longhorns at WVU Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Mountaineers are a talented team. Lets start with the defensive.

West Virginia is coming into the tournament with one of the best defenses in the country. With a quick full-court press and aggressive half-court defensive, the Mountaineers force their opponents to turnover the ball over 28 percent of their possesions. Their defense is their best offense.

Their half court offense has seen its fair share of hot and cold streaks. The Mountaineers need to improve in shooting and continue to be a great offensive rebounding team during the big dance.

West Virginia ended the season as the seventh best offensive rebounding team in the country. Devin Williams is excellent at forcing himself inside the paint and getting put-back points. Williams averages 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

The Big 12 conference has allowed the Mountaineers to gain valuable experience when it comes to playing close, hard fought games.

This conference sent seven teams into the NCAA tournament (tied with the Big 10 for most team’s in the Tournament), and is arguably the toughest and most competitive conference in all of college basketball.

The Mountaineers have gone against the likes of Baylor, Kansas and Iowa State who are fast and lengthy teams that have garnered high seeds in the field of 64. This gives West Virginia an idea on how to go up against teams they will potentally face like Maryland and even the No. 1 seed overall, Kentucky.

West Virginia have a challenging path to get to the Final Four — being in the Midwest Region reiterates that. Do not, however, sleep on this West Virginia team.

With experience from the seniors and outstanding coaching from the Big 12 coach of the year, Huggins, the Mountaineers have the potential to shock a lot of people.

Remember they call this March madness for a reason.