March not the same without WVU participating
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 06:03
This week 68 college campuses across the country are gearing up for arguably the most exciting period in all of college sports, which continues tomorrow night with the opening play-in round of the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Yes, the newest edition of March Madness is finally upon us.
Highlights of unforgettable championship moments will roll, and hopeful fans will scribble the names of equally anticipative universities into millions of brackets all across the nation. Seedings, underdogs and upsets will rule watercooler talk for the next three weeks, and unsurprisingly, as March Madness can stir up excitement in even the most casual sports fan.
But as any student, alumnus or general fan of a Division I university would surely attest, the circumstances are completely changed when you actually have a real, vested interest in the most exciting and competitive basketball tournament on the face of the earth.
The competition is usually great from a third-party point of view. Even if you don’t have a horse in the race, most sports fans can really enjoy the swings, thrills and eventual triumphs of the NCAA Tournament. It’s an electrifying time.
But let’s be honest, it’s still simply not the same experience as when it’s your school battling for survival through the daunting tournament stages.
Unfortunately, West Virginia men’s basketball fans will not get a taste of that experience this year.
In fact, even though the Mountaineers made the tournament in the two previous seasons, you could argue that it’s actually been three years now since March Madness was truly alive in Morgantown.
Yes, I’m referring to the Mountaineers’ run of 2010 – perhaps the most memorable college basketball experience in West Virginia’s storied history.
But even though it was just three years ago, for many Mountaineers’ fans, the historic run seems like it took place eternities ago.
Part of the reason is that the Mountaineers seem to be simply headed in the wrong direction.
In fact, over these last four seasons, West Virginia has gone from the Final Four, to a second round exit, to a first round exit, to not even making the tournament this year.
It’s migrated from one of the best basketball conferences in the history of the game to the Big 12, where college hoops is an afterthought to the gridiron in most circles.
To make matters even worse, this year was the first and only time since Huggins returned to West Virginia in 2007 that his team couldn’t procure an NCAA tournament bid, and this year’s West Virginia squad had the worst winning percentage of any Huggins team in his 31 years of coaching.
The NIT wouldn’t even have us this year, as seven consecutive losses rounded out West Virginia’s forgettable inauguration into its new conference.
Now, none of these things necessarily bode well for the future of West Virginia basketball, which inevitably makes the nostalgia of the 2010 run all that more intense. Because despite the
nation’s collective and utter
obsession with football, many of us still yearn for success on the hardwood in March.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done in order for that elusive success to return to the Mountain State. There are no quick fixes from a 13-19 season to a deep run into the NCAA tournament.
Hopefully the same disappointment and disdain that has possessed West Virginia supporters in the last few years can ultimately serve to motivate the returning Mountaineers and incoming freshman next season, because Morgantown really just isn’t the same at this time of year without a little Madness.