WVU basketball is the No. 4 seed in the West Region of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Their opening game will be against the No. 13-seed Bucknell Bison (26-8) on Thursday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Buffalo, NY. The Bison won the Patriot League Championship this season.
A 4-seed, though for West Virginia? Really?
The Kansas Jayhawks landed a No. 1 seed after getting bounced their opening game in the Big 12 Tournament. They split the season series with WVU, each team protecting home-court, and their only other two losses came to Indiana and Iowa State. The Jayhawks beat Duke and Kentucky on their way to a 28-4 record. That’s quite a resume.
WVU on the other hand finished the season 26-8 with quality wins over 6th-ranked Virginia and Baylor and Kansas when they were No.’s 1 and 2 in the country. They reached the Big 12 Conference Championship game for the second-consecutive year, but lost to Iowa State. Bob Huggins is the perfect leader for this team, though; he’s overlooked just as much – if not more – than they are.
Huggins has coached two different programs to Final Four appearances, Cincinnati in 1992 and West Virginia in 2010. A .710 career-winning percentage, Huggins is one of only ten coaches with 800 career wins. He brought Cincinnati basketball to relevance and revived a West Virginia program after John Beilein left for Ann Arbor in a weird period for the entire school. Oh, West Virginia is Huggy Bear’s alma mater, as well. Might be a solid info-nugget when choosing one of 64 teams to win a tournament known for it’s madness.
Gonzaga (32-1) was rewarded a No. 1 seed after their season in the WCC and will stay at home in the West Region. Arizona (30-4) won the Pac-12 Tournament and received a 2-seed, while Florida State (25-8) received a 3-seed after finishing 2nd in the ACC regular season. Notre Dame (25-9) was ACC Tournament runners-up and earned a 5-seed. Including WVU, these are five solid teams. They’re by no stretch overwhelming, though – except Arizona, who wouldn’t see West Virginia until a possible Elite Eight matchup.
The Mountaineers have a possible second-round matchup with the Irish if Notre Dame defeats Princeton and WVU handles Bucknell. The selection committee always claims they don’t set up potential rivalries or interesting matchups in the tournament, but there’s a lot of people who’d like to see a West Virginia-Notre Dame battle. That’s the type of game WVU should be favored in too – one that comes on a quick turnaround. It’s rough preparing for Press Virginia when you have a week, let alone just a couple days.