The WVU basketball team is isolated from the rest of the Big 12 Conference. That’s the case with most other West Virginia athletic programs.
Basketball is a different beast than football, though, because more than one game per week is played on the hardwood. Since West Virginia joined the Big 12 five years ago, scheduling has been an issue. West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has expressed this many times, but doesn’t use it as an excuse if his team loses a game on the road.
If anything, Huggins is the biggest advocate for the Big 12 Conference, routinely calling it the hardest conference in the country. But it is especially hard on the basketball program because of the great lengths it has to travel each week.
According to WVUsports.com, the WVU basketball team will play 18 conference games this season. What also makes the Big 12 so competitive is the fact that each time will play each other twice — at home and on the road. The smaller makeup of the conference makes it more competitive. Plus, top to bottom, there may not be a more rounded league in the country.
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West Virginia’s disadvantage is being the only Big 12 team located in the eastern time zone. Not only do the Mountaineers have to travel more than 1,000 miles to play a league game, they also deal with the time change. To compensate for this, the league has scheduled more convenient locations when the WVU basketball team goes on the road.
Twice, the WVU basketball team will play consecutive road games this season. That will be this first set with Oklahoma State on Dec. 29 and Kansas State on Jan. 1. Later, the Mountaineers travel to Kansas Feb. 17 and remain on the road to play Baylor Feb. 20. On four occasions, the Mountaineers will remain at home for two consecutive games.
The WVU women’s basketball team, which is undefeated this season, also has a travel predicament. Like the men, there are two instances where the Mountaineers will remain on the road for back-to-back conference games. It begins tonight at TCU as the women look to earn another conference championship.
Even though the Mountaineers are farther away than any other Big 12 team, both the men and women’s programs are thriving in this conference. The unique road trips, though taken by plane, offer these players one-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are hard to find at any other school in the country.