West Virginia men’s basketball head coach Bob Huggins has never been one to lie about his team’s predicament in relation to the NCAA Tournament.
The future Hall of Fame coach has never been one to not update his team on the chances they have at making the Big Dance, and not letting them know about opponents’ Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) going into games.
The Mountaineers should be well aware of the significance of these last five games and what is needed of them come the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
“I don’t lie to them. I think the worst thing that could happen is that at the end of the year, they would say to me they don’t know,” Huggins said. “If I was them, I would want to know. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re marathon guys.”
While some coaches and analysts might say this method of letting the team know about their current RPI, opposing teams’ RPI and what needs to happen to make the NCAA Tournament creates pressure, Huggins said he believes the team should know their current situation.
Texas would have been a big win in terms of the RPI because the Longhorns were in the top 25. Currently, UT has an RPI of 21.
The Mountaineers regular season finale comes against the Big 12’s dominant force: the Kansas Jayhawks. Currently, KU has the No. 1 RPI in the nation.
The Baylor Bears, who come into Morgantown Saturday afternoon riding a three-game winning streak, are also on the bubble in terms of the NCAA Tournament. Currently, Baylor has an RPI of 43.
Unlike some other bubble teams, WVU has the chance to build its resume with the daunting Big 12 schedule and competition the rest of the way. For it to be safe, WVU needs 19 wins before Selection Sunday. Anything more than that win count will be a plus, anything less could be disastrous for the Mountaineers.
For that to be the case, WVU needs to win three of its last five regular season games along with a win in the Big 12 tournament. If the Mountaineers do not win a game in the conference tournament, they need to win four of these next five games.
If West Virginia has 13 or 14 losses come Selection Sunday, it will be hard to imagine the selection committee allowing the Mountaineers in, especially with one of the losses coming against Virginia Tech, a team with an RPI well above 200.
At this point in time, WVU’s best chance comes with it playing in arguably the best conference in the country in the Big 12. The depth inside the conference allows the Mountaineers to get quality wins. Seven of the 10 teams in the conference have been ranked at one point or another. Only WVU, Texas Tech and TCU haven’t been ranked at all this season.
So while Huggins continues to inform his team on what they need to do to make the NCAA Tournament after many believed there wouldn’t even be such a conversation going into the 2013-14 season, WVU’s last five games will certainly make for an interesting story line.