Conference schedule just ahead for Mountaineers
After Radford and Northern Kentucky are brushed aside, West Virginia will open its Big 12 Conference schedule next Friday (Dec. 30) on the road at Oklahoma State, a team that was 9-2 against its usual non-conference slate of teams it sees at home in Stillwater.
The Mountaineers have lost only to Temple in the 10 games they had as of Dec. 19. There was an eye-opening win over then-unbeaten Virginia in Charlottesville. West Virginia also destroyed Illinois of the Big 10.
Only three of the conference teams have lost as many as three games — Iowa State is 7-3, Oklahoma is 6-4 and Texas is only 5-5.
Baylor is 11-0 and defeated Louisville on a neutral court. Five teams — Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and West Virginia have lost only once.
There could be an interesting story this season with Texas Christian, a long-time cellar dweller. The Horned Frogs have a new coach in Jamie Dixon, who came back to his alma mater after a long tenure at Pittsburgh. Dixon could bring Texas Christian basketball into the 21st century after it had dragged along in the Dark Ages forever.
There are no thinkers believing Texas Tech is a legitimate contender and Kansas State would be a universal surprise if it could actually play with Kansas, Baylor or West Virginia when playing any of those teams on the road.
Coach Bob Huggins, who began his head coaching career at Walsh in Ohio and then moved along to Akron before rushing into the elite world of major universities at Cincinnati posted his 800th career win the other night in Morgantown against Missouri-Kansas City. Huggins spent one season at Kansas State after being let go by Cincinnati.
Kansas has dominated the regular season races in the Big 12 ever since Noah and Moses were pups.
The kingpin Jayhawks are once again the logical favorite to whip their neighbors . . . and far away West Virginia.
Huggins has trained his sights on the regular season title. And he could reach his goal if injuries aren’t in the future, the same as snow and wind and a typical Morgantown winter of stay-inside days and nights.
Esa Ahmad, Daxter Miles, Jevon Carter, Tarik Phillip and Teyvon Myers are at least the equal of what other Big 12 teams come to fight their battles with . . . and even Nathan Adrian, Lamont West and Brandon Watkins can have their moments of effectiveness.
If the Mountaineers are to make early waves that eventually turn into tsunamis then they must sweep the two-game, home-and home series against Texas Tech, Texas Christian, Iowa State and Texas.
Kansas won’t falter often and usually is a wave of victories through all of February and early March.
Baylor is timber tall and does own a bench that supports the list of starters.
There is a complete round-robin schedule of 18 conference games for all the schools.
Could it be Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia at the top?
Kansas thinks so. Baylor thinks so. And Huggins and company think so.