Can WVU women get a date to the dance?
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 01:01
I’m going to fill you in on a little secret.
It’s probably something you already know, but in case you haven’t thought about it in a while, I’ll remind you of this fact – an unwavering truth you won’t learn in any class on campus.
Everyone wants a date.
Really, it’s true. Men, women, animals, basketball teams – all of us – have a common, biological need to be wanted and picked. Unfortunately, though, we aren’t all always picked all of the time.
You know, survival of the fittest and all that jazz.
Fortunately, for one basketball team on campus, it looks as if they are fit enough to catch the eye of that oh-so-special someone (the selection committee) and get a date to the big dance.
And by big dance, I’m, of course, talking about the NCAA tournament.
In fact, under the successful watch of West Virginia women’s basketball head coach Mike Carey, the Mountaineers have been scoring tournament berths at an unprecedented rate.
West Virginia has gotten a date to the big dance in five of the past six seasons – three consecutively, which is the longest streak in school history.
Last night’s 77-73 loss against Texas Tech pushed West Virginia’s record to 11-7 overall, and more importantly, 3-4 in Big 12 Conference play.
A win against the Red Raiders would have been huge, and after blowing a double-digit lead, the Mountaineers were dealt their third conference loss by five or fewer points – which hasn’t happened since 2006.
Last season, the Big 12 sent seven teams to the NCAA tournament (one of which was Texas A&M, now a member of the SEC). Every team that made it to the tournament from the Big 12 in 2012 had a record of at least 8-8 in conference play.
Using a record of at least .500 in major-conference play is a pretty standard metric when judging a team’s chances at making the tournament, and a look at the Mountaineers’ remaining schedule shows Carey and crew have some work left to do, but dancing in March is still possible.
It won’t be easy, though.
The Mountaineers have 11 games remaining, eight of which are against teams currently ranked in the top 25.
Playing a difficult schedule the second half of the season isn’t new to West Virginia. In fact, last season, the Mountaineers faced an almost identical situation.
Six ranked teams faced West Virginia in the final 11 games of the regular season, and the Mountaineers were able to compile seven victories, as well as secure an eventual tournament bid in the process.
There’s also the conference tournament – a place where tournament bids can be punched at the last minute, but the hope is the Mountaineers won’t have to do too much work when they travel to Dallas for the Big 12 conference tournament the second week of March.
The more attractive the regular season resume, the higher the seed – which means a higher chance of going further into the tournament.
Last season, the Mountaineers were bounced in the second round of the tournament after falling to Stanford, a No. 1 seed. No. 9 West Virginia was able to knock off Texas in its first-round game.
In eight NCAA Tournament berths, the Mountaineers have never advanced past the second round. But for now, winning NCAA Tournament games isn’t what this team is thinking about.
Just getting a date to the big dance is all that is on the team’s radar.
It’s just like I said: at the end of the day, that’s what the goal is for everyone, right?