Questionable Calls: March 16, 2011
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 23:03
How far will WVU advance in the NCAA Tournament?
West Virginia has nine players on its roster who were on last year's team that made it to the Final Four.
If the Mountaineers can somehow channel their inner 2010, they could make a run in this year's NCAA Tournament. But, this year's path is just a bit tougher.
WVU, as a two-seed in 2010, had a pretty easy path to the Elite Eight. Morgan State was no challenge for the Mountaineers, and Missouri and Washington were just out-toughed by them in the next two rounds.
A team like that – with seniors like Da'Sean Butler and Wellington Smith and future NBA player Devin Ebanks – it was easy to do all of that.
Flash forward a year later, and the roster and makeup of the team is completely different. And the route to the school's second straight Final Four is much harder.
WVU has been so inconsistent throughout this season – not just game by game but half by half. For that reason, I can conceivably see the Mountaineers losing in the second round to Kentucky or going even further and perhaps making the second weekend of the big dance.
Realistically, Kentucky wants revenge and is a little more talented than WVU this year.
The simple fact is, WVU will have to win six games to take home the national championship. It hasn't won more than four games in a row during a stretch this season. But that doesn't mean the Mountaineers can't make the Sweet 16. I just don't see it happening.
- Tony Dobies, Sports Editor
How far the West Virginia men's basketball team advances in the NCAA Tournament will depend on which team shows up on gameday.
If the Mountaineers struggle to make shots like they have done throughout most of the season, an early exit from the tournament will occur – most likely in the third round against Kentucky.
It isn't unfathomable to think head coach Bob Huggins will rally the Mountaineers. A push by Huggins along with a few timely shots could send WVU into the Elite Eight.
Tough victories against Notre Dame, Louisville, Purdue and Connecticut were proof this team has the potential to make some noise during March Madness.
Unfortunately, I have the Mountaineers falling to the Wildcats in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, which will be a disappointing end to a such a tough season.
Although Kentucky's roster is vastly overhauled from the team that lost to WVU last season in the Elite Eight, the Wildcats will be seeking revenge.
All told, WVU is just too inconsistent to make a deep run.
Point guard Truck Bryant has been in a shooting funk all season long, while fellow guard Casey Mitchell has tailed off after his early season scoring tear.
Forward Kevin Jones has shown flashes of brilliance, in particular against Louisville, but he has not been able to be the driving force that many predicted him to be at the beginning of the year.
In the end, it will be too little, too late for the Mountaineers.
- Brian Kuppelweiser, Sports Writer
The West Virginia men's basketball team definitely has one of the more intriguing roads to the Final Four this season.
First, the Mountaineers got put into what is probably the most difficult region in the entire tournament. They are in the East region, which includes the No. 1 overall seed, Ohio State, as well as three other Big East teams.
What's even more interesting is the fact that West Virginia is one of two teams that had to wait to find out who it will be playing in its first game of the tournament, thanks to the addition of three more teams to the tournament field.
With all that said, I think the Mountaineers will lose in the third round of the tournament to the Kentucky Wildcats.
While they can definitely beat the Wildcats, I have a feeling Kentucky's youth and athleticism will overpower the Mountaineers.
If West Virginia does win, it will be because of the amount of experience it has over Kentucky. It will also need to find ways to slow down the Wildcats' two star players, Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight.
Jones will likely be covered by Kevin Jones when the Mountaineers are in their man-to-man defense, while Knight will be covered by Mazzulla. But the best bet for the Mountaineers to slow down Kentucky will be to use their matchup zone, much like they did in their win over Connecticut.
By doing those things, West Virginia could beat Kentucky and move on to face Ohio State in the Sweet 16, but I just don't see it happening.
- Michael Carvelli, Sports Writer