No dancing for WVU this year
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 23:02
I never enjoy being the bearer of bad news, but it’s time for the collective members of the West Virginia faithful to start to come to terms with a simple but painful fact, if you haven’t already.
There will be no March Madness for the Mountaineers this season.
I can say this confidently, after the West Virginia men’s basketball team lost its sixth conference game to Baylor Wednesday night in Waco, Texas.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak and dropped the Mountaineers (12-12, 5-6) below .500 in conference play yet again this season.
Theoretically, West Virginia could reel off wins in each of its seven final league games, boost its horrific RPI – which is nearly 100 by the way – and pass down a tough decision to the NCAA selection committee.
But let’s be realistic. The only teams the Mountaineers have defeated in the Big 12 in their inaugural season in the conference are three teams from Texas that have combined for a pitiful 6-27 record in league play this year.
And the other six teams?
After Baylor, it’s an appalling 0-6.
There have certainly been plenty of statistics thrown around during this challenging season, but the fact West Virginia is still yet to beat a single conference opponent with a .500 or better league record through mid-February should tell you just about everything you need to know about this season.
Keep in mind, this is occurring in a conference that’s one of the weakest of the Power Six conferences this season. The Big 12 competition simply isn’t anywhere near the level of the Mountaineers’ former conference, the Big East, the Big 10 or even the ACC.
But even a lackluster conference hasn’t helped struggling West Virginia this year, who again still hasn’t beaten a single team in the Big 12 with more than conference wins or even just an overall winning record.
There will be some who cling to the idea of a potential run through the Big 12 championship mid-March but again, realistic thinking dictates that if the Mountaineers can’t defeat a single team over .500 during the regular season, how could they possibly expect to win five of those games in a row to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament?
Now, the fact that the Mountaineers won’t be dancing come March doesn’t mean that the season is completely over today. It doesn’t mean the players should stop playing or that the fans should stop coming to games and showing their support.
Conversely, it’s simply time for West Virginia fans to finally begin to realistically temper their expectations. Yes, failing to make an appearance in the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight seasons, and the only time since head coach Bob Huggins took over the program in 2005 will be an ugly fact for most to accept.
But in hindsight, is it really that much of a surprise?
The Mountaineers lost both Kevin Jones and Darryl "Truck" Bryant to graduation in the offseason, two players who combined for almost 52 percent of West Virginia’s scoring last year.
Let that sink in for a bit, two players combining for more than half of all points scored, that are then suddenly removed from the equation altogether this season.
The only way the Mountaineers would have been able to stave off a mediocre season during this rebuilding year was if someone would have been able to step up and take the reigns of this team, especially on offense.
Unfortunately, that never happened.
Sure, the pair of freshmen guards Eron Harris and Terry Henderson have both been a bit of a bright spot, but the fact that they have been about the only positive aspect of this team all year is truly indicative of West Virginia’s dire situation.
And even with the boost of two accurate-shooting freshmen, the 2012-13 West Virginia Mountaineers are the only team out of 73 Power Six conference squads that don’t have a single double-figure scorer this season – something I’m still trying to wrap my head around.
There will be numerous discussions in the coming weeks of how West Virginia still may have a chance to run the table on its remaining regular season schedule or somehow claim the Big 12 championship’s automatic bid by reeling from five consecutive wins in as many days.
It’s not going to happen.
And the sooner you rid yourself of these delusions of grandeur and realize that the only postseason opportunity the Mountaineers might play themselves into at this point is the NIT, the better.