Called the bible of college basketball, Blue Ribbon Baksetball Yearbook has released its preseason top 25 basketball teams.
The WVU basketball team finds itself in the top 10 heading into the 2017-campaign. The Mountaineers are No. 9 according to the publication.
Blue Ribbon also has fellow Big 12 school Kansas in the rankings. The Jayhawks come a few spots above West Virginia at No. 4, but no other Big 12 team is in the rankings.
It’s a good and rightful spot for the Mountaineers. Bob Huggins has developed his teams to be disciplined with a defense-first mentality. That’s how the WVU basketball team has been winning a bulk of the games in recent years.
Last year, the WVU basketball team finished with a record of 28-9 and bowed out to Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. The Mountaineers were just a few seconds away from advancing to the Elite Eight, but Jevon’s Carter’s last-second desperation attempt fell short.
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Getting back to that point isn’t the goal for this year’s team. The goal for the WVU basketball team is the same as it always has been under Huggins, to win a national championship. With Carter back running the offense and leading on defense, the Mountaineers have a right to be in the title hunt.
Carter’s supporting cast includes fellow senior Daxter Miles. Those two have grown up together in the program and they have been the perfect fit at guard under Huggins. They received early playing time three years ago and made the most of that opportunity to get where they are today. They are the leaders of a team that has potential to be one of the best in program history.
The Mountaineers will need big production from other players like Sagaba Konate, who will be relied upon to be the force down low and Esa Ahmad who appears to be missing some games in the early part of the season.
Some unproven players like West Virginia natives Chase Harler and Brandon Knapper will have a chance to emerge this season.
It will be an interesting dynamic to see where this team heads this year. It could be a repeat of last year, winding up with a solid finish, or the WVU basketball team could make the Final Four for the first time since 2010.
The only bad thing is that there is no way this team can exceed expectations. The expectation is a deep run through the NCAA Tournament. Anything less will be a disappointment. There is a lot riding on the young guys to step up this season.
The good news, as always, is that Bob Huggins will demand the most out of his players. Mountaineer Nation will be rewarded with strong performances each night out.