Big East Tournament time
It is hard to say, but a bid to dance in NCAA field of 65 could be at stake when West Virginia meets Providence Wednesday at 2:30 in the opening round of the Big East Basketball Tournament. The Mountaineers are the fifth seed after hanging on to beat St. Johns in overtime last Saturday in Madison Square Garden. Having the regular season's last game in MSG can't hurt since that arena is also the venue of the Big East Tournament.
The Mountaineers looked to be destined for a Wednesday night game until Marquette lost to Syracuse. The loss by Marquette left them with an 11-7 league record and tied with WVU. The Mountaineers earned the fifth seed because they won the only regular season meeting with the Warriors.
This will mark the third time West Virginia will have met Providence this season, the first two games were WVU wins. A third win over the Friars would put the Mountaineers in Thursday's 2:30 quarter final contest against fourth seed Connecticut. WVU lost a close game to the Huskies 10 days ago.
This will be WVU coach Bob Huggins' first appearance in the Big East Tournament and any success in the Big Apple will be a plus in recruiting since Huggins and his staff seem poised to hit that area hard in recruiting. Two of Huggins' first recruiting class are from the New York City area.
For now though the idea is just to win. Even though WVU won the National Invitation Tournament last year, West Virginia does not want to have to defend the title this year. So, with a 22-9 entering this week's conference tournament, does West Virginia need a win to assure themselves a spot in the Big Dance?
There are so many bracketologists out there offering up opinions it is hard to get a handle on it all. There are plenty of conflicting ideas on where West Virginia fits in right now. If it were a simple majority vote, the Mountaineers would seem to be in, but the truth is that none of these people who offer their opinions have a say in who gets in the tournament. There is a selection committee for that and we aren't hearing opinions from them.
That begs the question of why we are subjected to six weeks of bracketology when the guys we listen to have no say in the matters they discuss? Probably the same reason we have to endure a month more of discussion about the BCS football standings than is really necessary, because people watch and listen.
The bottom line is that these guys, like Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps, are informed and astute observers, but they still don't matter in the whole scheme of things, the guys locked in a room this weekend do. When the selections are complete this Sunday we will see how much these guys know, because many of them will have been proved wrong in several instances about teams they thought were in and were left out.
Where will WVU fall? I can claim no proficiency in these matters, but I will like their chances a whole lot better if they beat Providence Wednesday. Right now they would likely be in, but a poor showing against Providence combined with upsets in smaller conferences and strong showings by some bubble teams could hinder the Mountaineers.