MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — March has officially arrived, but there’s still plenty of work to do for West Virginia.
Emotions will heavily weigh at the sold-out WVU Coliseum on Saturday when the Mountaineers host No. 11 Kansas State in the regular season finale. Not only will WVU bid farewell to six senior players (and a host of managers and trainers) ahead of its 2 p.m. ET tipoff against the Wildcats, but it will also look to solidify its place in the NCAA Tournament with an upset win to punctuate the campaign.
WVU remains on the bubble, but ahead of the finale, it holds an advantageous position as a likely “Last Four Byes” team according to most bracketologists.
That tag could change on Saturday if the Mountaineers top K-State, the second team in the Big 12, for their 18th win of the season. WVU’s series with the Wildcats actually bookends its Big 12 schedule as it opened the conference slate with an overtime loss in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve.
The Wildcats have only gotten better since that matchup as head coach Jerome Tang eyes a Big 12 Coach of the Year nod in his first season at the helm. Behind the leadership of point guard Markquis Nowell, the league’s leading assister, and Keyontae Johnson, its second-leading scorer, the Wildcats rocketed up the national polls and even flirted with a possible 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
There’s plenty on the line for the Wildcats, as even their second-place standing in the Big 12 comes into question on Saturday, and a confident Mountaineer squad will help find a resolution.
WVU has won two of its last three games but after its one-basket loss at No. 3 Kansas on Saturday, the team has earned some respect in the national conversation. That respect was reaffirmed after WVU earned a gritty road win over Iowa State.
Some of WVU’s top performers will look to continue their form against the Wildcats. Erik Stevenson, the team’s leading scorer, has scored more than 20 points in his last four outings and will look to notch his ninth such game against the Wildcats. Emmitt Matthews Jr., the team’s “rock,” as Bob Huggins has described him, will look to close out his storied career with a victory as well.
Tip-off between the Mountainers and the 11th-ranked Wildcats is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Before the game, though, be sure to start your Saturday right with a live edition of Mountaineer GameDay, airing at 10 a.m. ET on affiliated Nexstar stations.