The WVU basketball team seems to be a curious case with national media, and fans across the country.
There’s some that have the Mountaineers, a No. 3 seed, being upset by No. 14 seed Stephen F. Austin in the first round. Then, there’s some fans who know better.
West Virginia could make a run to the Final Four and the National Championship. That kind of pick is also pretty popular.
The graphic below, by ESPN, shows that the Mountaineers are one of the best choices to make the Final Four. Heck, the WVU basketball team looks to be the best choice to come out of the East Region.
That would mean that the Mountaineers would have to get through No. 2 seed Xavier and No. 1 seed North Carolina. Or, that another team had taken care of that work for them.
Either way, it’s a sticky situation. There are no guarantees this team of the year. It’s all about match ups and surviving to advance.
Is the WVU basketball team better that Texas? Yes. But why did the Longhorns beat the Mountaineers twice this season? Because it’s a mismatch for the Mountaineers. Same goes for West Virginia’s blow out loss against Florida. Just not the best match up for WVU’s style of play.
The Mountaineers are now at full strength. Jonathan Holton said he had some discomfort before playing in the Big 12 Tournament, but he played through it and helped WVU earn two victories against its conference foes.
If West Virginia is to earn two, or more, wins in the big dance, it has to stay focused and play solid, like it did in the first half against Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game.
Only thing better than playing a solid first half is playing a solid full game. The Mountaineers did not do that against the Jayhawks, but they were in a position to win the game. Kansas was just a little stronger when it counted most.
If/when WVU beats SFA, it will move on to face either Notre Dame or the winner of the Michigan/Tulsa play-in game. From there, the Mountaineers will likely face No. 2 seed Xaxier, or maybe even archival Pittsburgh, if the No. 10 seeded Panthers are to get past Wisconsin in the first round and Xavier in the second.
Plus, the Musketeers need to worry about their first round foe, Weber State.
In the Elite 8, West Virginia could take on the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels, or maybe even an underdog in Indiana or USC/Providence. WVU head coach Bob Huggins may like a rematch against No. 4 seed Kentucky, which toppled the Mountaineers in the Sweet 16 last season.
Heck, Daxter Miles may want another shot at the Wildcats after almost-guaranteeing a victory before that game in Cleveland last March.
If the Mountaineers make it to the Final Four, they will likely meet No. 1 seed Virginia for a second time this season. Or, the WVU basketball team could run into perennial power Michigan State, the No. 2 seed. The Spartans always get hot this time of year.
Then, there’s the national championship game. Looking at the other side of the bracket, a pair of Big 12 teams stick out.
There’s Kansas, the No. 1 seed in the South, and Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed in the West. A rematch, for the fourth time this season, would create great storylines.
But that trek, so delicately laid out online and in people’s paper brackets, could have a million different detours. The games are not won on paper. They are decided on the court.