MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Just 13 full days lay between today and Selection Sunday. West Virginia has three guaranteed games during that time – two final contests in the regular season and one in the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City.
The Mountaineers (16-13, 5-11 Big 12) are locked into playing on the first day of the conference tournament on Wednesday, March 8.
West Virginia’s NCAA Tournament hopes continue to hang in the balance following Saturday’s two-point loss to No. 3 Kansas. Two more chances remain in the regular season to bolster its postseason résumé – at No. 23 Iowa State on Monday, and home vs. No. 14 Kansas State on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
There is a belief in some within the sport that conference tournament outcomes are not valued heavily by the NCAA Tournament selection committee now as they once were.
Bob Huggins does not subscribe to that belief.
“I think they all matter. I don’t think there’s any question they all matter,” Huggins said on the latest episode of The Bob Huggins Show.
Huggins and fifth-year guard Erik Stevenson voiced their beliefs that West Virginia belongs in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. While the Hall of Fame head coach knows that how his team performs in the regular season is a major part of the program’s postseason résumé, he feels that how they perform at the conference tournament is important, too.
“When [the selection committee is] sitting in that room and they’re watching it on TV, because they do watch it on television while they’re in that room, and they see people playing really well, that’s got to strike a nerve,” Huggins said on his weekly television show. “And they’ve got to say ‘That’s a team that could make a run in this tournament.’ Even though maybe somebody else has a better record, but still when you’re sitting there watching them and you got the eyeball test on them, the team that plays well in those tournaments generally gets a pretty fair seed.”
Currently tied for eighth in the Big 12 standings, West Virginia would match up with Texas Tech if the conference tournament began this week. WVU split its regular-season series with the Red Raiders, with each team winning on the other team’s home court.
The Mountaineers have only failed to win at least one game at the Big 12 Tournament once since 2016. Three times they have won multiple games.
The last time they did that was in 2019.
West Virginia’s NCAA Tournament hopes could easily swing either way during conference tournament week. The Mountaineers could play their way into the NCAA Tournament field, or they could have their bubble popped by bid-stealers in smaller conferences around the country.
Get all the thoughts from the head coach, analyst and WVU Sports Hall of Famer Warren Baker, and Gold and Blue Nation’s Anjelica Trinone and Ryan Decker on the latest edition of The Bob Huggins Show.