WVU basketball teams have lost a combined four-straight games
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 23:02
It's been a bad four days for the West Virginia University basketball programs.
The No. 25 WVU men's basketball team lost two-straight games to top-25 teams, falling to No. 10 Villanova on Saturday and No. 4 Pittsburgh on Monday. The No. 17 WVU women's basketball team was upset by unranked Pittsburgh on Saturday and couldn't hold on to a halftime lead over No. 2 Connecticut on Tuesday.
With about a month remaining in the regular season and neither team being assured an NCAA Tournament bid, it's crunch time for the Mountaineers.
"I told them that right now we've got to win three or four more games or we won't make the NCAA Tournament," said WVU women's head coach Mike Carey following his team's 57-51 loss to UConn. "The girls looked at me like I was crazy, but we're (6-5) in the Big East. We're not going to make the NCAA tournament with a losing Big East record."
Despite starting the season 16-0 including a win over top-25 Iowa State in the Virgin Islands, the Mountaineers have slipped as of late – including losses in four of their last five games.
"It's a reality check. We have five games left and we can't be playing around anymore," said senior guard Liz Repella. "The seniors on this team don't want to play in the NIT. Our goal at the start of the season was to win the national championship. Going to the NIT is unacceptable."
The road doesn't get much easier for the WVU women, as three of their last five games in the regular season are on the road. Out of the two remaining home games, one comes against No. 8 Notre Dame.
Prior to the Mountaineers' game against UConn, WVU's RPI was No. 19, but, WVU had one lone win over a top 25 team this season back on Nov. 27 against Iowa State.
The team is currently in eighth place in the Big East, holding on to the first first-round bye in the conference tournament in early March. The Mountaineers play three of the top-seven teams in the Big East over their last five games.
"We have a lot of tough road games left," Carey said. "We don't have any easy games left."
The WVU men's team is in a similar situation.
After jumping all the way up to second place in the Big East, the Mountaineers have lost two-straight games and dropped to a tie for eighth place in the Big East.
It doesn't get any easier, either.
After Saturday's game at home vs. DePaul, the
Mountaineers will travel to No. 13 Syracuse, head back home for a date with No. 7 Notre Dame, travel to No. 4 Pittsburgh for a rematch, stay on the road for a battle with unranked Rutgers before two-straight home games against No. 9 Connecticut and No. 15 Louisville to end the regular season.
"This league is tough. It's unforgiving. If you don't come and play hard every night, this is exactly what will happen," said WVU forward Kevin Jones after losing to Pitt. "It's definitely not over in our minds. We have seven more games left in the Big East, and we have a great opportunity to turn this season around."
The Mountaineers are boosted by the fourth-best strength of schedule and a No. 18 RPI, according to www.realtimepri.com. WVU also has key wins over then-No. 8 Purdue and then-No. 13 Georgetown earlier this season. That could be the key to WVU making the NCAA Tournament this year.
If it could improve through this stretch, there is a chance to make a giant leap in the Big East standings, as well. The Mountaineers face five teams higher than them in the Big East standings in their remaining regular season schedule.
"We've just got to get back to basics," said point guard Joe Mazzulla. "I don't think anything comes easy for us the rest of the way … We've really got to buckle down, mentally."