Column - Four reasons WVU fans shouldn’t be worried yet
Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012 04:02
Wednesday night's loss by the West Virginia men's basketball team to Notre Dame was ugly.
It was probably the worst I've seen West Virginia play in the last four years. And while there's no doubt for a need for some concern about the team's NCAA tournament status, there's no need to be pressing the panic the button just yet.
Reason No. 1: They can get a good win tonight
The Mountaineers might have the best opportunity of all of the bubble teams tonight when they host No. 10 Marquette. A win against the Golden Eagles would not only restore some faith back into the restless fanbase, but it would also be the win the Mountaineers need to punch their ticket into the big dance (assuming a win against DePaul – we'll get to that later.)
The best thing about tonight, though, is that it's being served up to West Virginia on a silver platter – a home game, at 9 p.m., and the weather shouldn't be bad enough to prevent fans from filling the Coliseum.
Reason No. 2: There's plenty of season left to play
Four games is an eternity in a basketball season and more than enough time for West Virginia to spruce up its already good resume for the tournament. As I mentioned above, a win against Marquette would be the perfect scenario for West Virginia, but even if it can't find a way to get the win Friday night, it still has two winnable games against DePaul and South Florida.
Tuesday's Senior Night against DePaul is a must-win for the Mountaineers if they want to go dancing. The Blue Demons are last in the league with a 2-13 mark and are just 11-16 overall.
The season finale against the Bulls on the road is also a winnable game, and one that will spruce up the Mountaineer resume.
The Bulls have been the surprise of the Big East this season, currently ranked No. 5 with a 10-5 mark and almost pulled the upset against No. 2 Syracuse earlier this week.
If West Virginia finishes the season 2-1, it's most likely in. If it wins all three, it's in really good shape.
Reason No. 3: They can play with the best
There's an easy counter to this argument: "But they can't beat the top teams."
Of course it would be better if the Mountaineers could've notched these wins, but they didn't. That doesn't take away that they were competitive in five games against ranked teams this season that they ended up losing.
West Virginia lost to No. 7 Baylor by just two points, lost to then-No. 16 Connecticut by seven points after a controversial call in the closing minutes, lost to then No. 4 Syracuse by a bucket after the infamous goaltending no-call, lost to No. 18 Notre Dame by four and fell to then-No. 23 Louisville by three after a late collapse.
The selection committee would rather have a team that can compete with the top teams than a mid-major that hasn't proved itself.
Reason No. 4: Not many bad losses
Most bubble teams have bad losses, but the good news for West Virginia is that it's only had three, maybe four, horrible losses this season.
A ten-point loss to Kent State looks pretty bad, but it's just the second game of the season for a team that was inundated with young talent.
The 67-48 loss Seton Hall was bad. There's no getting around that. And it hurts even more than Seton Hall will be fighting for one of the final NCAA tournament spots as well.
The Mountaineers loss to St. John's by 16 points was even worse, and a six-point loss to Pittsburgh at home hurts, too. But if West Virginia can finish out with a boom, its bad losses won't look any worse than any of the other bubble teams'.