In arguably one of the most difficult conferences in the nation, the West Virginia men’s basketball team have held their own.
The Big 12 Conference, home to seven ranked teams at one point or another in the 2013-14 season, has been significantly better than what most fans and experts predicted it would be. The rise in competition in the league has spurred some much-needed excitement acrossthe country.
Big 12 basketball was never really considered one of the conferences that could compete with the old Big East Conference or the current ACC. Top to bottom, there weren’t teams in the Big 12 that were NCAA Tournament worthy.
This season is different.
West Virginia has lived up to the challenge, too. The Mountaineers, despite looking shaky at times this season, have remained competitive behind the leadership of their trio in Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Juwan Staten.
The Mountaineers have been competitive both on the road and at home this season. That’s saying something, because consistency has recently been an issue with West Virginia.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Big 12 was just as good and exciting as the Big East used to be. I don’t think I can ever enjoy a conference as much as I did when West Virginia played teams like Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Louisville.
When the conference change took place, I knew things would be different. While the Big 12 produces a different level in football, the product in basketball wasn’t supposed to be as good or even remotely close to it.
In the first year as a member of the Big 12, you could say basketball wasn’t the most exciting. In the 2013-14 season, however, we’ve seen that these teams can play against some of the best teams in the country, and the conference is simply a step up from years past.
For West Virginia to remain in the middle of the pack or better, that says wonders about where the program is headed. It is going in the right direction. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the program becomes relevant again.
With the possible exception of (maybe) TCU, guaranteed wins aren’t much of a thing in the Big 12 this season. WVU has done a good job of taking the next step to getting to where it wants to be. West Virginia has struggled with winning close games and making the necessary plays to come away with the victory.
To some degree, the Mountaineers have improved in that area. Against Baylor in Waco, Texas, Staten was able to make a late layup to give West Virginia a much-needed upperhand.
In the following game against Kansas State, WVU was up by 10 points at one time, but the Wildcats kept fighting back. Then, when up by one point late, West Virginia was able to make the necessary plays once again to earn the 10-point victory.
In arguably the best conference in the country, West Virginia has been consistent. Ultimately, that is the best sign for the Mountaineer faithful.