MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia had a golden opportunity to secure its spot in the NCAA Tournament Saturday evening in Lawrence, Kansas. Ultimately, a final possession resulted in a turnover, as the Mountaineers fell by two points against the third-ranked team in the nation.

With the loss, WVU’s postseason hopes still very much hang in the balance with just two games remaining in the regular season. The Mountaineers (16-13, 5-11 Big 12) sit tied for ninth place in the toughest basketball league in America, and are teetering on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Despite being unable to emphatically bolster its postseason resume, West Virginia is convinced it will be playing beyond the conference tournament.

“We belong [in the NCAA Tournament]. There’s no question about it,” Stevenson said following the road loss.

Though the Mountaineers did fall short of earning the statement win they have been searching for, WVU did play like an NCAA Tournament team for much of Saturday’s contest.

West Virginia forced Kansas into 19 turnovers, the second-most giveaway by the Jayhawks in any game this season. Bill Self’s team also grabbed its second-fewest rebounds (26) in any single game this year. Two players – Erik Stevenson and Tre Mitchell – scored 20 points or more, and two other starters also finished in double-figures in a tough road environment.

The Mountaineers, which entered Saturday ranked 27th in the NCAA Net Rankings and 28th in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, have played the seventh-toughest schedule in the country, according to ESPN.

“If that doesn’t mean something to the committee, shame on them,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “Not just that, I think you look at our scores, we deserve to be in the tournament.”

In the eyes of the Hall of Fame head coach, the way the selection committee has valued difficult schedules in recent years has led the Mountaineers to play such a taxing slate of games this year.

With no chance of finishing the regular season below .500, and with wins over ranked Auburn, Iowa State, and TCU teams, he feels they should be rewarded.

“If they continue to tell you to do that, then by God they ought to hold up their end of the bargain,” he added.

Four of the six teams ranked above the Mountaineers in strength of schedule are Big 12 Conference members. Stevenson referred to the conference as “head and shoulders above every other league.”

One of the teams with a tougher SOS is No. 3 Kansas. Moments after fending off West Virginia’s second-half rally, Self was asked if the Mountaineers are a team worthy of being called on Selection Sunday.

“You guys saw them play today. Does that look like an NCAA Tournament team to you? And the answer is an emphatic ‘Yes.’ They’re good,” said Self. “They’re really good.”

Huggins said he told his team Saturday that he feels they “don’t have anything to worry about,” in terms of making the big dance. Projections from ESPN and others had West Virginia on the bubble even before the one-possession loss to Kansas.

Never one to mince words, Huggins let those on-hand in Lawrence know exactly how he feels about his team’s postseason chances.

“I will blast [the selection committee’s] a– as far and as long as we can, if they don’t let these guys in the tournament,” said Huggins. “After, you know, years and years of ‘Play a competitive schedule, the best teams are the teams that play the best strength of schedule.’ We have played the best strength of schedule, and it’s not arguable. We played the best. So, I think we … ought to get credit for it.”