The college basketball season surrounds tournaments.
That may be the NCAA Tournament in March or some very competitive early season tournaments in November. Like many Power 5 teams, West Virginia is competing in another early season tournament this year with the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic.
Last year, West Virginia participated in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic despite some COVID-19 issues which forced many teams to dropout. WVU won the tournament after winning games against South Dakota State, VCU and Western Kentucky.
In the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic, West Virginia will play three games over the span of four days. Head coach Bob Huggins said he likes playing games like this because of the experience it gives his team.
“I think these tournaments have been really good for us over the years,” Huggins said. “You get a lot of experience. You get to play a lot of guys because it is three games in four days.”
Under Huggins, West Virginia has used these early season tournaments to its advantage as it has had a lot of success each year. In the past four seasons, the Mountaineers have won an early season tournament three times.
The one year WVU didn’t win an early season tournament was during the 2018-19 season at the Myrtle Beach Invitational. That season, the Mountaineers finished 15-21 overall and made it to the quarterfinals of the College Basketball Invitational.
Huggins said that early season tournaments have helped boost West Virginia’s NCAA Tournament resume.
“I think it kind of helps your tournament resume,” Huggins said. “I think over the years some of the people that we’ve been able to play have played really well. For instance, we beat Western Kentucky last year and that helped us.”
“Western Kentucky had a heck of a year and they were a team that the [NCAA Tournament] committee thought a lot about,” Huggins added.
The eight team field is made up of No. 22 Saint Bonaventure, Marquette, Boise State, Clemson, Elon, Ole Miss, Temple and West Virginia. West Virginia faces Elon to begin the tournament on Thursday night and will then face either Marquette or Ole Miss on Friday.
Along with WVU, Clemson and Saint Bonaventure made the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Both lost in the first round.
“Saint Bonaventure is probably going to win their league,” Huggins said. “They have everyone back; they’re experienced and they’re really a good team. Hopefully we get to play them.”
“I think this tournament has probably as good a field as any we’ve played against,” Huggins added.