Iowa St West Virginia Basketball

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins smiles at his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018.

A perfect opportunity presents itself for the West Virginia men’s basketball team Monday evening at the Coliseum.

The Mountaineers are currently tied with Texas Tech, who they host at 9 p.m. Monday, for second place in the Big 12 with two regular season games remaining. With how the last month has unfolded, who would have thought they could still be in this position?

"It’s very important," said WVU senior guard Daxter Miles Jr.

At one point, WVU was the No. 2 team in the country. It piled up 15 straight victories, sat pretty much at the top of college basketball and appeared nearly unstoppable.

Then there were lots of collapses. There were lots of blown leads. Second half play was definitely a negative.

It all started with the 11-point lead at Texas Tech. There was the 16-point lead at home versus Kansas. There was the seven-point lead at TCU. There was the 17-point lead against an unranked Kentucky team, in Morgantown. There was the botched final few possessions in a loss to Oklahoma State. And there was the 12-point lead at Kansas.

All of those slipped away.

WVU continually dropped in the national rankings. Once the No. 2 team in college basketball, it is now No. 21. After those games, I heard some make the argument that even the Mountaineers should have been unranked. I even heard and argued myself that WVU did not deserve anything better than a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

With how those games unfolded, there was a solid argument for that. The season appeared to be slipping away. There were so many teams that looked much better than what WVU showed, especially with the dreadful second half performances that kept piling on and on and on.

Even with how all of those games unfolded, how the offense sputtered into little movement, little passing, forced shots near the end of the shot clock, WVU is still right here.

Sure, if WVU doesn’t blow a couple of those games, maybe it sits in the top spot in the conference. Maybe instead of Kansas clinching its 14th straight Big 12 regular season championship following Saturday’s win at Texas Tech, it is West Virginia who is finally the top dog in college basketball’s top conference at the conclusion of the regular season.

And if WVU only manages just to hold on against Kansas both times, both of which were games it easily should have won, it probably is the No. 1 team in the Big 12.

"If Texas Tech had won today (Saturday), we’re kind of still back in it," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "Now we’re probably not."

But it’s not in it. Yet it’s still tied for second place, getting ready to host Texas Tech. The winner seizes sole possession of the No. 2 spot.

With a win over Texas Tech, all WVU would need to do is beat Texas in Austin — who it throttled, 86-51, last month ­— to officially secure the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.

That’s impressive for a team that seemingly blew second half leads left and right.

"We’re probably out of the run for the league championship, but I mean today’s (Saturday) really the first day that you could really look at it and say we were out," Huggins said. "We weren’t out."

Chris Jackson is from Livermore, CA, and is a junior majoring in Journalism. Chris previously interned at NBC Sports Bay Area. Chris has covered Baseball, Football, Men’s Basketball and Men’s Soccer during his time at The Daily Athenaeum.